China’s latest wearable tech is an air-conditioning system tailored for hazmat suits
- The wearable device, weighing around 3 kilograms, can adjust the temperature in a range from 16 to 25 degrees Celsius, and operate for 3 hours after fully charged
- The abrupt increase in number of Chinese workers wearing head-to-toe protective gear during the pandemic has increased potential demand for mini cooling devices
A home appliance manufacturer in China has developed a wearable air-conditioning system tailored for hazmat-suited Covid-19 workers as daily testing becomes the new normal for millions across the country.
MBO Group, a Guangdong-based maker of appliances such as air conditioners and refrigerators, made a splashy product launch last week, with models dressing up as hazmat workers and police to showcase the innovation.
The wearable device, weighing around 3 kilograms, comes with a cooling vest and an air conditioning system. It can adjust the temperature in a range from 16 to 25 degrees Celsius, and operate for 3 hours after fully charged, the company said.
Mainly targeting outdoor workers such as Covid-19 control staff, traffic police, and maintenance electricians, the product will be mass-produced this year with output reaching 200,000 units, according to the company.
“During mass nucleic acid testing, the front-line medical staff and volunteers work in thick and airtight protective clothing and often sweat a lot,” said MBO Group chairman Yu Fangwen, adding that it would help the country’s pandemic control efforts.
The device is priced at 8,888 yuan (US$1,360) per unit, with a “pro” version going for 12,888 yuan.
MBO began research into wearable air-conditioning systems in 2016 and launched its first product in 2017. In Japan, Sony launched its own wearable air conditioning device in 2019 via a crowdfunding campaign.
The abrupt increase in the number of Chinese workers wearing head-to-toe protective gear during the pandemic has increased the potential demand for mini cooling devices.
To keep Covid-19 at bay under Beijing’s “dynamic zero” policy, major cities in China – including Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen – require citizens to conduct nucleic acid testing on a regular basis, and a negative test result is needed to enter public venues such as shopping malls and subway stations.
Covid-19 testing stations, usually makeshift outdoor booths where hazmat-suited staff conduct swab tests on people, have mushroomed across major Chinese cities to facilitate mass testing.
While there are no official figures on how many testing workers are in the country, they could number in the millions as China’s health authority requires one testing booth per 1,000-1,500 residents in major cities, according to South China Morning Post calculations.
MBO said it will invest 550 million yuan (US$82 million) to build a manufacturing base for the wearable products, with an annual production of 1 million units starting from 2023.