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Home / News / Sony’s weirdest wearable yet gave me shivers

Sony’s weirdest wearable yet gave me shivers

Stay cool in summer, or warm up in winter

Sony Reon Pocket 5 hands-on front

From smartwatches to augmented reality glasses and Bane-inspired air purifying face marks, I thought I’d seen everything the wearable world had to offer – until I strapped the Sony Reon Pocket 5 around my neck. Part portable air conditioner, part high-tech alternative to those disposable heat packets popular on frosty winter mornings, it’s certainly one way to avoid sweaty ‘pits when the sun it shining.

You wear the Reon Pocket around your neck, under your shirt, with the unit draping down over your upper back. A thermoelectric cooling (TEC) plate makes contact with your skin, heating up or cooling down based on readings from the multitude of sensors inside. Three monitor temperature, one handles humidity, and another detects motion; it’s smart enough to switch off when you take it off, in order to preserve battery.

There are five levels of cooling, and four levels of warmth; the gadget can be left to its own devices, or you can opt for maximum heat/cold manually through a companion app. It’ll play nicely with iOS and Android.

Aimed at commuters, holidaymakers and frequent travellers, the idea is to ditch those cheapo portable fans (which, lets face it, only blow warm air in your face anyway) and go hands-free. The only giveaway is a tiny vent sticking out of your shirt collar.

The Reon Pocket Tag is effectively a second set of sensors, which can be clipped onto your shirt pocket and used to monitor temperature and humidity outside the confines of your shirt. It’s optional, but might be useful if you’re regularly jumping between different temperature zones – say an air conditioned subway to a blazing hot city street, then into an air conditioned shopping mall.

It’s small enough that I didn’t give it a second glance when I saw Sony’s reps were all wearing them, and could just as easily be clipped to a backpack or trouser pocket. The white plastic should help it go incognito for most office workers, blending in with their shirts.

The neckband is skinny enough to slip under t-shirts as well as collared ones, and did a great job of distributing weight. I think the TEC chiller touching bare skin ensures you’ll never forget you’re wearing one, but prolonged use isn’t going to force a chiropractor visit either.

Sony reckons this new model is 1.5x more effective at cooling than the previous generation, and the auto mode is faster to swap between temperatures. In my brief demo, it took just a few seconds to go from pleasantly warm to refreshingly cool. No-one would tell me what the upper and lower temperature limits were, but suffice to say this gadget won’t give you frostbite or first degree burns.

The companion app let me pick a specific crossover point, so I’d be cooled down at 19 degrees celsius or above, and warmed if temperatures dipped any lower. It could also be left to its own devices, adjusting on the fly based on its own sensors or the Tag’s. Ambient temperature was in the mid-twenties celsius during my demo, so perfectly pleasant; I’d be more interested to see how effective the cooling will be during a heatwave, and the warming on a cold winter’s night.

Officially, the built-in battery should be good for up to 17 hours of use, which is almost twice as long as the Japan- and Hong Kong-only Reon Pocket 4. That also assumes you don’t have it permanently on maximum cold or hot, though.

As the name suggests, this isn’t the first iteration of Sony’s “wearable thermo device”. The original was crowdfunded to such success on the firm’s home turf, it spun off an entirely new subsidiary to produce new generations. After first branching out to Hong Kong, now it’s hoping to break into Europe, starting with the UK.

The Sony Reon Pocket will be on sale, directly through Sony’s web store, on the 15th of May. Pre-orders are open now. It’ll set otherwise-sweaty commuters back £139, with extra neckbands going for £25.

Profile image of Tom Morgan-Freelander Tom Morgan-Freelander Deputy Editor


A tech addict from about the age of three (seriously, he's got the VHS tapes to prove it), Tom's been writing about gadgets, games and everything in between for the past decade, with a slight diversion into the world of automotive in between. As Deputy Editor, Tom keeps the website ticking along, jam-packed with the hottest gadget news and reviews.  When he's not on the road attending launch events, you can usually find him scouring the web for the latest news, to feed Stuff readers' insatiable appetite for tech.

Areas of expertise

Smartphones/tablets/computing, cameras, home cinema, automotive, virtual reality, gaming

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