Author – Kamal Chaturvedi
Military, industrial personnel and sportspersons have to perform their daily chores in extreme climates, which not only limits their productivity, but also causes physical repercussions like fatigue, injuries and illness. Particularly, the recent incidents of construction workers dying on site in Qatar indicate the dangers of exposure to very hot temperatures of around 40-500C. Similarly, Indian army soldiers working in the extremely cold climate of the Siachen Glacier region need better protection to regulate their body temperature.
Typically, all heat regulating devices need to have a fan to expel hot air. This will mean installing bulky supporting units in any climate controlling device. Interestingly, an Indian innovator has developed ClimaCon, which is a unique temperature control outfit that allows users to precisely control temperature from 40C to 600C at the touch of a button. This wearable device works like a panacea for both men and women working in extreme weather conditions.
ClimaCon is a new concept developed by Dhama Innovations, a company founded in Hyderabad in 2008. The company was established by Kranthi Kiran Vistakula, an alumnus of Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US. While studying at MIT, Kranthi had to endure a severe cold climate in the US to which he was not accustomed to. So he ideated upon the ClimaCon technology, which is a unique adaptation of the Thermoelectric Effect. When a voltage is applied across a thermoelectric device, it creates a temperature difference. Since the polarity of the applied voltage determines the direction of heating and cooling, these devices can be used as temperature controllers.
The thermal efficiency of ClimaCon systems has been optimized through extensive human mapping research. This technology is novel, which is the first heat-sink ever designed to eliminate the need of a fan and has no moving parts in it. Evidently, the ClimaCon device is 300% lighter than any other contemporary solution, has longer sustained heating/cooling performance and is easy to use.
Typically, a climate controlling device such as air-conditioning or consumes a lot of power. However, Dhama Innovations could not afford to use any power generator, since that would have made the outfit bulky and unwieldy. So an innovative lightweight and completely portable Cryothermic apparel was designed that is powered by a Lithium polymer battery, fitted along with accessories like jackets, vests, scarves, gloves and insoles. Other similar products like ClimaWare Cryothermic Knee Wrap, Elbow Wrap and Back Wrap have been developed, which are designed to provide relief from tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, sports injuries and lower back pain.
After inventing this unique solution, Kranthi Kiran Vistakula approached the Indian government for funding under the Technopreneur Promotion Programme, and he received INR3 crore over the next five years. Then Dhama Innovations’ main focus is to help niche users like soldiers, industrial workers and athletes by providing them thermal comfort.
In the early days, Dhama Innovations focused on applications for the Indian Military, but soon they realized that it was a difficult market to crack for a startup. Fortunately, Kranti got orders from the US to supply INR250 crore worth of ClimaWare products. Dhama’s chief distributor in the US saw tremendous market potential in its products due to the innovative technology. Recently, Dhama Innovations tied up with Woodland’s Stores to sell its products both at their stores and online at a price range of around INR3,000 to 13,000.
The ClimaCon technology has been recognized at the global level with Kranti receiving several awards and accolades starting from “MIT 1K Business Plan Competition” in 2005 to ‘Innovator of the Year 2010’ by MIT and was a finalist at ‘Under Armor Innovation Challenge’, USA in 2012. Further, Dhama Innovations has also been recognized as the ‘Top 200 Most Promising Technology Companies’ in the Globe by Red Herring in 2009.