Instant chill: this CES 2020 heat-sucking gadget makes beverages cold in minutes

Matrix Juno
(Image credit: Future)

Tired of waiting for your fridge to slowly chill your drink? Now you can preorder Juno, a countertop appliance the size of a coffeemaker that uses heat-draining tech to drop lukewarm beverages down to chilly temps in minutes.

Juno is the brainchild of Matrix, the company behind the never-needs-recharging PowerWatch and refined PowerWatch 2. Instead of capturing heat to harvest energy, the new appliance uses thermoelectric tech to wick away heat quickly - even from the inside of the drink. 

Here’s how: users pop open the Juno’s lid and drop a bottled or canned drink in, close the appliance, and hit either of the two top buttons for your preferred length of chilling time. There’s no display; instead, Matrix opted for a simple vertical light stripe as a minimalist indicator, shifting from red to full blue once the timer is done - and your beverage is properly chilled.

Juno has a single chilling rate, so you’re really just deciding how long to leave drinks in there. The two buttons are simple timers: press and hold one to change chilling time.

Sadly, you can’t just drop a glass or open drink in the Juno, because its thermoelectric tech works by flooding the beverage pocket with super-chilled water to transfer heat out of the beverage container in a method called the Peltier effect. Juno spins the beverage very fast to bring warmer molecules to the edge of the container, and the water wicks heat away and out through the silver-grated back of the appliance. And yet, that spinning won’t shake up your carbonated beverage.

Of course, you could just pour your drink in a closed container (like a securely-shut mixer or a water bottle) and drop it into the Juno. Naturally, Matrix has its own thermos-like container it’s selling separately that is built to fit the appliance. The space is wide enough for broad-footprint champagne bottles (up to 3.5 inches), and tall enough to house a wine bottle (up to 12.5 inches) or two soda cans stacked vertically.

(Image credit: Future)

Fast-chilled drinks...for a price

Juno works as advertised - or at least, the tech behind it does. Matrix demonstrated a working proof-of-concept prototype for TechRadar, which did indeed chill a lukewarm soda can and a cup of hot coffee down to cool, drinkable temps in minutes. They also showed us a Juno shell with working buttons and light meter - all it needs, then, is the chilling machinery within.

That’s not the most promising start going into CES 2020 where Matrix opens up preorders for the appliance; on the other hand, the company fulfilled its PowerWatch and PowerWatch 2 crowdfunding campaign orders and those wearables fulfilled the promise of never-needs-recharging tech. 

Less promising is the price - which, at $299 (about £220, AU$430) MSRP, is far from cheap for most consumers. You can pick it up for an early bird preorder price of $199 (about £150, AU$290), but that’s still seemingly above its occasional utility, unless you regularly find yourself nursing drinks until they reach room temperature. 

For white wine connoisseurs or big party hosts, Juno might be worth the expense, or perhaps in hospitality for bars or hotels to quickly chill beverages.

(Image credit: Future)

But in typical Matrix fashion, this is really a gateway product - a consumer device that serves as proof-of-concept for industrial and commercial applications. One idea: upsize the tech to fast-chill shipping containers to make it quicker to transfer meat and produce from ships to trucks. Or perhaps hotels could get rid of the always-on mini-fridge and just stick a Juno to fast-chill something from in-room mini-bars, which would save energy costs.

"We wanted to create a practical use-case for it that anyone could benefit from," Matrix cofounder and CEO Akram Boukai wrote in a press release. "Juno is the ultimate consumer demonstration of how our cooling technology can radically alter the way we manipulate temperatures. But the applications are endless and we’re so excited for the future partnerships and use-cases of MATRIX thermoelectric cooling technology.”

There’s an easier adaptation that would bring Juno’s tech where it could be useful: portability. A fast-chilling appliance on the beach or at the BBQ practically sells itself - Matrix just has to liberate Juno from the power grid. And for a company that made a never-needs-recharging watch, there’s probably already tech in its portfolio that could bring Juno outside the house.

In the meantime, we don’t expect folks to be sold on the Juno’s price and occasional utility, but if fast-chilling is intriguing, it might be worth taking the plunge. Juno is available for preorder now with an expected ship date of Q3 2020.

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David Lumb

David is now a mobile reporter at Cnet. Formerly Mobile Editor, US for TechRadar, he covered phones, tablets, and wearables. He still thinks the iPhone 4 is the best-looking smartphone ever made. He's most interested in technology, gaming and culture – and where they overlap and change our lives. His current beat explores how our on-the-go existence is affected by new gadgets, carrier coverage expansions, and corporate strategy shifts.