MIT researchers have thrown the middle finger to advanced synthetic fabrics in sportswear and instead utilised biology (living organisms) to create a freakish new living fabric which morphs according to the surrounding atmosphere.
Called BioLogic, the bold new project led by MIT’s Lining Yao involves weaving micro-organisms and their natural behaviour into synthetic materials to power and move objects the same way a motor might. It sounds like something out of a Hollywood sci-fi film, but watch the research video below and be amazed and totally creeped out.
BioLogic’s invention works by using a bacteria called ‘Bacillus subtilis natto’ commonly found in Japanese cooking which reacts to atmospheric moisture. In sportswear terms, this moisture correlates to perspiration. Similar to how a pinecone behaves, the hydromorphic natto cells in the bacteria expand and contract depending on the humidity levels detected in the surrounding air; the more humidity, the bigger the bacteria gets (by up to 50%).
Yao took this rare finding and approached New Balance and designers from the Royal College of Art to craft the alien-like piece clothing you see before you. Rightfully named ‘Second Skin’, the sports garment becomes more breathable as the
host’s wearer’s body heat and humidity increase.
Yao told Wired that the cells are capable of reacting to all levels of humidity. At 100% humidity, the flaps curl up and are fully open to create maximum breathability.
Yao says that the biological approach is a promising new discipline for designers due to its overall adaptability. “With biology you can start to imagine functions that aren’t available for electronics,” she told Wired.
“Living matter, unlike electronics, can grow, evolve, duplicate, divide, and die. It’s an incredibly powerful medium – if you can control it.”