Many of you may have read about the March 11th earthquake-tsunami which caused the collapse of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Due to the power plant’s shutdown, there is now a power shortage in the Tokyo and Tohoku northern region and the government has forced companies to cut down their power consumption by 15% to prevent blackouts.
Due to the new power saving compulsion, many companies and offices are forced to turn down their air conditioning systems. This makes it difficult for workers and employees to bear the heat of the summers and work comfortably in their workplaces. The amount of fans imported through Tokyo port reached a record high and some offices have started initiatives so that employees no longer have to wear jackets or ties in the workplace, meaning the air conditioning can be used at a lower power.
They say that necessity is the mother of invention, but in this case the invention had been created before the necessity even came. Kuchofuku Co. Ltd created a variety of cooling gadgets, including an air-conditioned jacket. They have seen orders for their jacket soar since the government has limited the use of electricity.
The name of the company literally means “air-conditioned clothing”, but they also make a variety of other air-conditioned products such as cushions and mattresses. The president of the company and creator of the jacket, Hiroshi Ichiyaga, was once an engineer for Sony and worked there for 20 years up until 1990. He wanted to design an air-conditioning unit that used minimum power until he realized something that would lead him to create the air-conditioned jacket. The idea was simple, as stated by Ichiyaga, “It came to me that we don’t need to cool the entire room, just as long as people in it feel cool”.
The Kuchofuku jacket has two electric fans powered by a lithium-ion battery that lasts up to 11 hours on a single charge. The fans powers can be adjusted to control air flow into the jacket which give it a “puffed up” look. But the comfort it provides allows people to overlook the fashion statement made by the jacket. The fans can suck up to 20 liters of air into the jacket which circulates through the cuffs and collars, evaporating sweat and creating a cooling effect as a result.
Sales of the company’s jacket have doubled in the last year and company’s are placing so many orders that Ichiyaga is forced to decline many since his company’s production rate cannot currently meet with the demand.
However, Kuchofuku, has certainly made it’s mark in the Japanese market and it may even become popular in international marking with the increasing energy crisis Worldwide.