Tony Elkington Industrial and Product Design
Designing products that aim to empathise, delight, and ultimately make someone’s life a little better.
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Stratum is a desk mat that allows employees in shared workspaces to take control of their own thermal comfort - Tony Elkington Freelance Industrial & Product Designer London



With thermostat wars raging in offices all over the world, some people suffer from thermal discomfort on a daily basis. This is shown to impact happiness, health and productivity, but there's no way to please everyone when spaces are being heated and cooled instead of the people in them.

Stratum is a desk mat that gives office workers control over their own temperature. Applying heating or cooling directly to the forearms eliminates its effect on ambient conditions, allowing each person in a shared workspace to feel comfortable in a wider range of temperatures.

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Although labelled "personal" heating and cooling devices, existing products still have a significant effect on ambient conditions. Desk fans cause draughts that can irritate co-workers. Space heaters waste a lot of energy heating the office rather than the person who feels cold.

Stratum localises the application of heating and cooling, working on the principle of spatial alliesthesia - the same way you quickly feel more comfortable when you run your wrists under a cold tap to cool down or wrap your hands around a hot mug to warm up. This mind trick means Stratum can keep you feeling just right in a wide range of office temperatures, using a fraction of the energy and with no impact on those around you.

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Stratum is designed to be unobtrusive and facilitate productivity. Interactions with the device are kept to a minimum to let you get on with your work. The mat self-regulates to maintain your desired temperature, and three user-programmable presets make it a matter of seconds to switch between your ideal heating, cooling and neutral settings. If you need full use of your desk space, simply roll Stratum up and move it aside.

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Even heating is provided by a polymeric PTC heat pad layer inside the mat. The material heats and cools rapidly, and uses very little energy to reach a warm-to-touch temperature. It is also self-regulating which eliminates the possibility of overheating. The cooling effect is achieved by creating a localised zone of air movement around the user’s arms. Fans in either end blow air along the mat which permeates through the top fabric layer.

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