The researchers at MIT Media Lab's Tangible Media Group have a decidedly touchy-feely philosophy when it comes to technology. Previous projects include a shapeshifting tabletop that responds to human interaction and other kinds of "tactile user interface" (TUI) systems.
The group's latest project, BioLogic, involves creating a synthetic "second skin" material that can be bio-printed into wearable fabrics. When the material is activated by specific thresholds of heat and moisture, it physically morphs and moves, opening flaps that allow sweat to evaporate.
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Everything is happening in the lab so far, but heads up: MIT is working with New Balance to bring the technology to a sportswear outfitter near you.
It gets weirder: The nanoscale actuators in the material are actually organic microorganisms that, according to lore, were discovered by a Japanese samurai more than 1,000 years ago and have been used in fermentation techniques for centuries.
Specifically, the process leverages previously untapped mechanical properties of the Bacillus subtilis bacterium, commonly used in medicine and biotechnology. In one of two new demonstration videos released today by the MIT group, researcher Lining Yao describes how the bacterium works.