Sony’s wearable air conditioners selling like cold cakes in heat-stricken Japan

We always thought it’d be nice if someone could develop wearable air conditioning tech that’s a little more sophisticated than those working AC capsule toys we tried out a while back. So, imagine my surprise to find that Sony had already done it, and three years ago no less.

Reon Pocket is the name of this device which is now in its third generation. It’s a small unit designed to be pressed against the middle of your shoulders and deliver cool air right down your spine.

The first Reon Pocket was made from a successful crowdfunding campaign in July of 2019, in which their target amount of 66 million yen was hit in one week. Thanks to that success, Sony then put them out for retail the following year and moved 10,000 units in two days.

Despite the huge popularity in these limited releases, Sony has been pretty low key about the product so far. There’s a slew of videos featuring YouTubers trying out Reon Pockets, but no actual promotional videos from Sony themselves.

Perhaps it’s because they feel the product still isn’t quite up to their notoriously high standards. Since 2019, they’ve been constantly making improvements which have so far resulted in the Reon Pocket 3, which came out earlier this year and features heightened cooling efficiency that’s 50 percent better than the previous model.

Sony has also picked up some tricks from smartphone development and applied them to this devices as well. Reon Pocket 3 is equipped with motion sensors to detects the wearer’s movement and provide cooling appropriately. For those who would prefer to control their own cooling power manually, that can be done to via a dedicated smartphone app.

It also has a built in battery that fully charges in about 100 minutes via USB-C and lasts from eight to 61 hours in cooling mode or 27 to 54 hours in warming mode depending on the intensity. That’s right, these little things can also act as wearable heaters in the winter.

In either case, they can be worn using a specially designed neckband harness.

For more seamless cooling and heating, Sony has also teamed up with several labels to produce a line of business shirts and golf shirts that have built-in pockets for Reon Pocket.

Surprisingly for a Sony product, they’re not all that expensive either, retailing for about 14,850 yen a pop. At such a price during a potentially unprecedented heat wave in Japan, it’s no wonder that a Sony rep said that sales have been “more than expected.”

Comments online certainly seem to be expressing a lot of desperation to find any kind of relief from the heat.

“It’s good for the season that’s coming, but I’m just impressed with the technology of it.”

“I like the sound it makes when it’s working. People don’t think about that, but it’s important when you use it every day.”

“I want to put on sunscreen, but I sweat too much from the heat. Maybe this can help.”

“I wonder how long they last. I don’t want to have to get one every year.”

“Sony’s making everything these days.”

“I can’t handle the summer, so I’m going to get one soon.”