South Asia

Indian inventor develops jacket to heat or cool wearer

Kranthi Kumar Vistakula models his climate-control jacket
Image caption Mr Vistakula says he is even considering designing a jacket for cows

An Indian inventor is developing clothes which keep the wearer comfortable in extreme temperatures.

Kranthi Kiran Vistakula started with a jacket and is now applying his idea to shoes, scarves and even dinner plates.

The clothes use Peltier light-weight plastic plates with a thermo electric device.

The device is powered by rechargeable batteries which can be topped up by vehicles or even solar panels. They can last up to eight hours on one charge.

Mr Vistakula works with an enthusiastic young team in an isolated building near Hyderabad city, the capital of the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.

Outside, the summer temperature is more than 40C. But Mr Vistakula looks as comfortable as if he is in a cool climate.

He is wearing a state of the art ClimaWare-jacket based on his own patented technology.

A Peltier plate consists of a junction between two metals. When an electric current passes through the junction, metal on one side heats up and on the other side it cools down, he explains.

The climate-controlled jacket, which weighs a little more than 1kg, has been successfully tested by the Indian army in Siachen glacier where temperatures are as low as -40C in winter.

Mr Vistakula's company, Dhama Innovations, is now developing a range of other products using the same technology.

"We have also developed shoes and they have been immensely liked by the army personnel in Siachen glacier," he says.

Frostbite is a big problem for the army and the shoes have really helped, he said.

Jacket for cows

Mr Vistakula is now setting up a manufacturing facility near Hyderabad for the mass production of his products, which include jackets, shoes, scarves, gloves and ear muffs.

He is even considering a special jacket for cows.

"Basically when the cow is cooled, it gives more milk in summer," he explained. "So we're working on a jacket like that - a huge one."

Mr Vistakula says he started to develop the idea when he moved from his home city of Hyderabad to study engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of technology.

The difference in temperature came as a shock to him.

His first attempt weighed about 5kgs and had wires and fans. Everybody joked that he looked like a bomber. Then he started using Peltier plates.

There may also be a medical application for the technology. The team is working on a product called Haemosave which can freeze blood oozing out of a wound.

It is described as a potential life saver. It uses cryo or ice therapy to stop the blood flow and contract the blood vessels.

Other medical products include knee, neck wraps and elbow wraps. These devices can go instantly from 0C to 50C and help in controlling pain.