Sunday, July 30, 2006
Cool shirt ?
It is the ultimate way to beat the heat — a shirt with its own air conditioning system built in.
As temperatures soar above 35C, it wafts a refreshing breeze around its wearer, whether in the street or an office.
The record-breaking hot weather in Europe this summer has sparked UK companies’ interest in the Japanese invention.
It works by helping the body’s own cooling system. Normally, sweat is produced and evaporates, causing a cooling effect. Clothes interfere with this process by trapping the droplets.
But the shirt, invented by former Sony technician Hiroshi Ichigaya, produces a layer of circulating air which enhances sweat evaporation.
Two fans at the back pump fresh air around the wearer and out through the neck and sleeve ends. Moisture can also pass through the cloth. The 4in diameter fans are powered by AA batteries, which last for several hours, or by plugging into a computer using a USB cable.
The electrical parts can be removed for washing. The only drawback is the balloon effect caused by the air flow.
Ichigaya, now president of the shirt's manufacturer Kuchofuku - whose products range from a blouse for £50 to overalls at £100 — said: “We have had enquiries from Britain and we hope to be exporting in the future.
“It’s true the shirts make you look like a ‘Michelin Man’ but on factory floors people are more worried about being able to do their jobs in comfort.”
One man ‘road-tested" the shirt on a hot, humid afternoon in Tokyo. He reports:
There are obvious disadvantages — the front looks like a body builder with bulging muscles but from behind I resemble Quasimodo.