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New Smart Material Transforms When Activated by Heat or Sweat

From the brains at MIT, this project could mean huge changes to sportswear.

We previously reported on a partnership between Nike and MIT’s Climate CoLab, but the brains over at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) are also making headway in another area that has huge implications for the apparel industry.

The bioLogic project aims to study the use of Bacillus Subtilis natto, a microorganism living in dry rice stalks. It was found that this bacteria has the ability to expand and contract relative to its atmospheric environment. With this finding, the group “seeks a harmonious perspective, where biological and engineering approaches flow in sync.” According to its press release, “These animate cells are harvested in a bio lab, assembled by a micron-resolution bio-printing system, and transformed into responsive fashion, a ‘Second Skin’. We can now observe the self-transforming biological skin activated by living bacteria. The synthetic bio-skin reacts to body heat and sweat, causing flaps around heat zones to open, enabling sweat to evaporate and cool down the body through an organic material flux. In collaboration with New Balance, bioLogic is bringing what once may have lived in the realm of fantasies into the world of sportswear.”

In other words, the project aims to create a “smart material” that will be responsive to an athlete’s needs and his/her surrounding environment, whether it be cooling down or heating up. Once the material detects a high level of body heat, flaps open up to encourage the body and skin to cool down. Check out the videos below and learn more about the initiative here.


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