In­no­va­tion: Shape-shift­ing cloth­ing

Bloomberg Businessweek (Asia) - - CONTENTS - −Olga Kharif

Form and func­tion A new ma­te­rial called bi­o­Logic al­ters its shape with changes in hu­mid­ity, so an ath­lete’s shirt, say, can open ven­ti­la­tion ducts in the back when its wearer starts sweat­ing.

Next Steps

Yao says the bi­o­Logic team is test­ing wa­ter­proof glues and other ma­te­ri­als to make the fab­ric more durable, with an eye for it to be used at the Tokyo Sum­mer Olympics in 2020. It’s also con­sid­er­ing spin­ning off a startup to com­mer­cial­ize its work. Cal­i­for­nia In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy chem­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing pro­fes­sor Frances Arnold says among the chal­lenges will be mak­ing sure the ma­te­rial can with­stand a wash­ing ma­chine.

1.Ma­te­rial The bi­o­Logic team grows a strain of non­in­fec­tious bacil­lus bac­te­ria in a so­lu­tion and uses a cus­tom ma­chine to print it onto both sides of a piece of la­tex.①2.Ori­gin Ishii and his stu­dent team, led by Ph.D. can­di­date Lin­ing Yao, have been work­ing on the ma­te­rial for about two years.Part­ners The Me­dia Lab group is work­ing with MIT’s chem­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing depart­ment, Lon­don’s Royal Col­lege of Art, and sports­wear maker New Bal­ance to re­fine bi­o­Logic.Changes The bac­te­ria ex­pand or con­tract the fab­ric as much as 15 per­cent in re­sponse to ris­ing or fall­ing hu­mid­ity, which en­ables the ven­ti­la­tion ducts to open or close.②Mar­ket Be­yond sports­wear, the tech­nol­ogy could be used in ev­ery­thing from lamp­shades to tea bags to toys, Yao says.

Vents can help make the fab­ric more breath­able

In­no­va­tor Hiroshi IshiiAge 60Ti­tle Pro­fes­sor and as­so­ciate di­rec­tor of MIT Me­dia Lab, an in­ter­dis­ci­pli­nary re­search group

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