A breathing sports shoe, that grows its own air passageways to enable personalized ventilation? A learning insole that prevents fatigue and improves athletes’ performance? A t-shirt that responds to environmental factors by changing its appearance to inform the wearer about the air quality? What sounds like future visions are actually research results by Sports company PUMA and the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Design Lab
PUMA and MIT Design Lab have been conducting research in the field of biodesign since June 2017. Biodesign is the practice of using living materials such as algae or bacteria to create products. It makes possible a football jersey made from the silk of a spider or a shoe box grown from mycelium, the root structure of mushrooms. PUMA Biodesign explores the new frontiers of biological design and fabrication to bring advances in science and biotechnologies closer to our daily lives through sport products.
Four initial experiments that derived from that study were exhibited at this year’s Milan Design Week. The four initial projects include a Breathing Shoe, which is a biologically active shoe that enables personalised ventilation by growing its own air passageways to keep the foot cool; Deep Learning Insoles, which collate realtime biofeedback by using organisms to measure chemical phenomena that indicates things like fatigue; Carbon Eaters, which is a microbially-active t-shirt that responds to its environment to change its appearance and inform the wearer about air quality; and Adaptive Packaging, a biologically programmable material that can change its shape and structure to become a new type of alive, biodegradable and adaptive packaging. See the videos here.