Feher's air-conditioned baseball cap is one for the hot heads
The man behind the Feher ACH-1 air-conditioned motorcycle helmet – and indeed behind the mini A/C unit that cools the bottom cheeks of well-heeled drivers in a range of luxury cars – has gone a step further and built an air-conditioned baseball cap designed to keep your noggin between 12° and 22° F (7° and 12° C) cooler.
The miniature air con system uses a thermoelectric Peltier effect cooling unit, so it doesn't have any moving compressor parts, it's reasonably compact and should last for ages. Effectively, the cooling system has two sides, and when DC current is sent through it, heat is drawn from one side to the other. In this case, heat is drawn from your head and sent out through the vents at the back.
The AC Cap is pictured here in prototype form; inventor Steve Feher says there's a tidier, lighter production version on the way, presumably without a charging cord dangling out of it. With the cap itself, the air con system and enough battery on board to run the thing flat out for two hours, you're looking at a total weight around 18 oz (512 g). That's about as heavy as wearing a can of beans on your head, but much cooler – at least in one sense.
Cooling the head, says Feher, cools the entire body, leading to reduced sweating, improved physical endurance and potentially improved athletic performance, with the benefits becoming greater as the day gets hotter. The endurance part has some science behind it, too, in the form of a 2008 study that found people with cooling on their heads took as much as 51 percent longer to decide they'd reached their limit on an exercise bike in hot weather.
While this thing, in its prototype form, might look like a hard hat, Feher isn't planning to test or certify it for safety use. In terms of pricing, at the retail end you're looking at a little over US$200 apiece once volume manufacturing kicks in.
Will it catch on? Probably not as a fashion statement. But the endurance benefits of something like this might make sense for people who want to get a good workout in when it's hot, or for anyone that works in relentless heat.
Source: Feher Research