In Trento it is 38° (100.4F) and it is getting unbearable. No wonder that this news caught my eyes.
Researchers at San Diego University of California are creating a fabric that can adapt its heat conductivity in such a way to keep the skin temperature at 93°F. This might still seem on the warm side but actually that temperature at the skin level is just fine (remember that our body temp is around 98°F and keeping the skin at 93°F lets the body dissipate the excess of heat produced by the metabolism).
They are working on polymers that can contract and expand in response to the external temperature. By contracting the fabric becomes more dense and warmer (by letting less heat from the body disperse in the ambient) and conversely by expanding it cools the skin.
Interestingly, the researchers claim that by wearing clothes made with this fabric it would be possibile to reduce the power consumption by using less air conditioning in Summer and heating in Winter. They point out that having two persons in a room and providing them a pleasing temperature requires the air conditioning (heating) of the whole room whilst having each of them self adjusting the temperature through regulating the body heat dispersion can reduce significantly the overall energy required.
They are also considering equipping the fabric (for the T-shirt or pants) with electronic circuits (printed electronics) and batteries to help when the outside temperature gets out of those ranges where the fabric can make up for the difference.
So far it is just a research, that hit me because of today's temperature in Trento, as well as because it shows what can be done by using smart materials...