One of the Big Ideas in energy conservation in large buildings is the idea of a personal environment for workers. No matter what temperature you might choose for the building’s climate control, there will individuals who find it too warm or too cool for their personal preference. (This is why they make separate controls on electric blankets for double beds, after all.) A new spin-off from MIT named Embr Labs is developing a new device called the Wristify that could address this problem, and help make individuals more comfortable in other settings as well.

The picture above is just a design concept at this point, but they have built prototypes to test the concept. Using a heat sink and other components, the device can gently warm or cool your wrist. It does not make enough difference to alter your body temperature, but just like a cool breeze blowing on your face can make you feel more comfortable, the Wristify provides sensation to the nerves in your wrist that can affect your perception of your environment’s temperature. It actually provides pulses of heating or cooling, and just a fraction of a degree’s difference can make the user feel several degrees warmer or cooler.

Its inventors won a $10,000 prize in MIT’s annual materials science design competition. The prototype can run up to 8 hours using power from a lithium polymer battery. The students have created their new company with the aim of refining their prototype design and bringing the product to market.