One start-up says forget diet and exercise, its high-tech vests make it cool to lose weight.
"Thin Ice is the first wearable that allows users to burn calories, and it uses cold temperatures to achieve this," said Adam Paulin, founder of Thin Ice.
Paulin, a former personal trainer, told CNBC that his clients found it difficult to adhere to a diet or exercise program. He wanted a solution "for people to burn calories without the need for substantial behavioral change."
So in April 2015 Paulin launched Thin Ice, a wearable weight-loss line that claims to boost users' metabolisms literally without moving a muscle.
The start-up's premiere product, the Thin Ice vest, uses cold therapy to target areas of the body with high concentrations of thermoreceptors, which are nerve cells that are able to detect the presence of hot or cold temperatures. When they're cold enough, fat-burning processes are triggered.
"Thin Ice stimulates your body with cold temperatures, forcing your body to produce extra heat and burn calories in the process," said Paulin.
According to research by the International Journal of Obesity, a cold body's thermoreceptors activate Brown adipose tissue (BAT), known as "good fat," which in turn burns white fat, "bad fat," to produce heat.
"This metabolic boost can be taken advantage of even while lounging around," said Paulin.
The start-up's vest is controlled via the Thin Ice smartphone app, where users can adjust temperatures, track estimated calories burned and set weight-loss goals.
According to the start-up, users burn between 500 and 1,000 calories a day wearing the Thin Ice vest, however at this time there are no studies to prove the vest's effectiveness.
Thin Ice vests are currently available for pre-order on the company's Indiegogo page for $169.
Since its launch, the start-up has pre-sold 5,000 units, set for delivery in December.
Playing close to the vest
Despite competitors like The Cold Shoulder and Cool Fat Burner, Paulin claims Thin Ice is the only electrically powered vest with Bluetooth cooling technology. The founder describes his competition as "rudimentary icepack vests."
But venture capitalist Nir Liberboim questioned the start-up's ability to scale an untested product. "I imagine the FTC or FDA is going to regulate the term: weight loss."
Paulin said the company is currently focused on the online retail space because of its lax regulations. "One of our big steps is to do a clinical trial of our own to start to see some of the results we've seen from literature that's focused on ice vests. Those things are all pretty well validated over the last 50 years."
The start-up also plans to expand into a secondary market beyond weight loss. "We've identified sales opportunities with police stations and the armies, which are mostly interested in cooling effects for their personnel," Paulin told CNBC.
Angel investor Nat Burgess wondered if the vest's cooling technology is protectable.
"We do have a provisional patent on the actual heat dissipation methods involved in the device, because we're pumping heat away from the body with this technology and we've actually found a way to very consistently dissipate that underneath clothing to allow people to wear it throughout their days," said Paulin.
To date, the Toronto-based start-up has raised nearly $1 million in crowdfunding and will enter its seed round of funding soon.
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