NASA Scientist Kickstarts Cold Shoulder Weight-Loss Vest

An ex-NASA guy wants to help humanity lose weight, by selling an ice vest on Kickstarter. That’s right, an ice vest, not life vest. It’s a vest full of ice that’s designed to burn calories.

Sylvie Barak

February 4, 2015

4 Min Read
NASA Scientist Kickstarts Cold Shoulder Weight-Loss Vest

An ex-NASA guy wants to help humanity lose weight, by selling an ice vest on Kickstarter.

That’s right, I said ice-vest, not life vest. It’s a vest full of ice that’s designed to burn calories.

Invented by Dr. Wayne B. Hayes, a professor at the University of California and a visiting scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., the "Cold Shoulder" calorie-burning vest apparently is based on hard science, rather than science fiction.

According to info on Kickstarter, scientists have spent decades studying how mild cold exposure can enhance calorie burn, and the results seem to show that it works.

Here, however, is where the pitch starts sounding less Discovery Channel, and more QVC: “Take advantage of it without pain, without discomfort, and without taking more than two minutes of time out of your busy day,” says the spiel, promising to “bring this vest to the masses at a reasonable price.”

Repeating the old adage that “there is no magic pill for weight loss,” the blurb goes on to offer the “cold, hard truth” that “the foundation of weight control is your diet.”

Um, OK, cool (no pun intended), so where does being cold come in? Well, apparently it is a scientific fact that extracting heat from your body, even if you’re sitting on your couch in front of the TV, will force your body to burn more calories to stay warm.

Hayes works with NASA scientists who purportedly study ice, so he theoretically knows what he’s talking about.

The trick, apparently, was figuring out how to harness mild cold exposure without making people uncomfortable. Because making people uncomfortable isn’t usually good product design. And most people don’t really have the stomach for daily ice baths. Although, if you do, more power to you!

Anyway, the vest works if you are sitting down at rest in a room (or your car, or wherever) at a comfortable temperature, after pulling it directly from the freezer, and wearing it with a shirt underneath. That way, it extracts heat from your body, subsequently causing you to burn extra calories in order to stay warm.

Caveats! If you’re in a hot environment, The Cold Shoulder will help you stay cool, but won't burn excess calories, because you're not cold. If you’re working out in the gym, then the vest can help you stay cool, but won’t enhance your calorie burn. Likewise, and also, DUH, “if the vest is not cold, or if the ice has all melted, it will not induce excess calorie burn.”

Also, obviously, but perhaps not so obvious as a NASA scientist deemed it necessary to mention it, but “if you continue to eat junk, then no amount of exercise, cold exposure, or weirdly named supplements or powders will help you lose weight. The vest can burn up to 500 calories per day if used as directed, but you can easily nullify the effect by eating an extra 500 extra calories. So don't expect that you can continue to eat junk food, wear the vest, and lose weight. You can't.”

So there’s that.

Also, (obvious?) disclaimer: “The Cold Shoulder cannot claim to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease, illness, or condition.” Wow, NASA scientists either have overt sensitivity to liability or they think the rest of the world is morons. Or both. Probably both.

Hayes notes that wearing his Cold Shoulder vest is probably preferable to drug injections, liposuction, freezing fat cells, gastrointestinal surgery, and hours sweating away in a gym, and has no known side effects (except, possibly, looking like a weirdo). Its creator, though, thinks it looks pretty innocuous, noting, “You can wear it pretty much anywhere. I've worn it to fancy French restaurants, as part of a three-piece suit. I even tried wearing it on my wedding day, but my fiancé -- now wife -- decided it wasn’t quite ready for that.” Some good judgment there.

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For those interested, the campaign still has about a week to go, though many of the backing options are already sold out. If you do buy one, though, please be sure to take a picture of yourself wearing it and send us a review here at Design News. Because news doesn’t get much cooler than this.

Design engineers and professionals, the West Coast’s most important design, innovation, and manufacturing event, Pacific Design & Manufacturing, is taking place in Anaheim, Feb. 10-12, 2015. A Design News event, Pacific Design & Manufacturing is your chance to meet qualified suppliers, get hands-on access to the latest technologies, be informed from a world-class conference program, and expand your network. (You might even meet a Design News editor.) Learn more about Pacific Design & Manufacturing here.

A regular speaker on the tech conference circuit and a Senior Director at FTI Consulting, Sylvie Barak is an authority on the electronics space, social media in a b2b context, digital content creation and distribution. She has a passion for gadgets, electronics, and science fiction.

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