Rugged phone cases are boun­tiful. But, while they may offer some addi­tional thermal pro­tec­tion, they’re not built for true extremes. For that, you’d need either piles of insu­la­tion (too bulky) or some way to con­trol the tem­per­a­ture inside the case. Ther­moShield, one of over a dozen student-​​run com­pa­nies vying for atten­tion at North­eastern University’s Husky Startup Chal­lenge, went the latter route by slip­ping a Peltier ele­ment inside a slim plastic shell. The cur­rent pro­to­type was built on a 3D printer and clearly cre­ated for an iPhone, but plans for the ini­tial model should be simple enough to port to any handset. A stan­dard watch bat­tery powers the small plate and by con­trol­ling the voltage across it you gen­erate either small amounts of heat or pro­duce a slight cooling effect. A simple switch or slider would be used to man­u­ally con­trol the flow of elec­trons. Trekking through the arctic tundra? Simply crank up the heat to keep your phone from freezing to death. Mean­dering through the Sahara? Take advan­tage of the Peltier’s ther­mo­elec­tric cooling prop­er­ties to keep the Gorilla Glass from melting.

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