MIT’s Tangible Media Lab has a new project in the works called Biologic. As part of their mission to create sensors and actuators with natural properties, the team of interaction designers, fabrications specialists, and chemical engineers have developed a new responsive “bio-skin” that expands to ventilate a wearer’s skin when perspiration is detected.
The fabric utilises Bacillus Subtilis natto cells, a well-known bacteria essential to the fermentation process in Japanese cuisine. Now, researchers have discovered that these natto cells expand and contract accordingly with atmospheric humidity. With this simple property built into the cell’s biology the applications to creating actuating fabrics are endless.
The team is even experimenting by combining the cell’s expansive properties with electrical circuits to explore colour-changing capabilities. Biotechnology researcher Wen Wang says that the natto cell can be cultivated overnight to multiply by billions. With this cost-effective, rapid, and environmentally efficient method of manufacturing, it offers unprecedented possibilities to the application of novel fabrics in fashion and industrial materials.