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Don't Just Fan Your Face--Chill It

A collar, water, a motor--voila! Your very own cooling system.

June 29, 1998|CONNIE KOENENN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Can you imagine sitting in the baking sun at Dodger Stadium enjoying your own little cool-air zone while everyone around you is sweating and sweltering?

Just in time for summer, the Sharper Image has introduced the Personal Cooling System, which chairman Richard Thalheimer describes as a "high-tech version of the old ice-soaked towel."

It's a lightweight collar. You fill its two chambers with a few ounces of water, rest it securely around your neck and switch it on. A quiet motor drives a tiny fan that moves air across the water to create evaporative cooling--up to 20 degrees cooler than the hot, dry air around you, according to its catalog description. The flexible sides hold the aluminum cooling plates against your neck.

The Personal Cooling System lets the wearer stay in the heat for up to four hours--active or inactive.

"We've never had anything quite like this," said company spokeswoman Davia Kimmey. "It's a new technology, a patented process, that is a major advance in miniaturized evaporative cooling."

And although the system may be too restrictive for riding a motorcycle or a bike, she said, it's a great way to stay comfortable when walking, mowing, gardening, or watching sports or concerts.

Made of plastic and aluminum, the Personal Cooling System weighs about 16 ounces filled with water and 12 ounces when empty and is powered by a single AA battery. Price is $49.

The product has been on the shelves for almost a month at the Sharper Image in Beverly Hills. "We've been selling quite a few with no returns, which is good," said store manager Sam Gianos. "People like it for anything outdoors, like washing their car or yardwork. It's like having a nice cool rag around your neck."

Customers are also buying it from the store's Web site (http://www.sharperimage.com), said Kimmey. "Right now it's our hottest item--or maybe I should say our coolest."

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