Puma and MIT Design Lab have been for quite some time to develop self aware sportswear. Yeah, you read that right.
This new breed of athletic wear was first revealed a Milan Design Week. the two teams worked closely with Pennsylvania based design studio Biorealize.
The goal of the team was to create sportswear that is unique for each user. It is designed to change as its user changes and adapt to whomever is wearing it.
“We see the future of athletic gear to be real-time adaptive to the biology of the user and to the active environment,” Yihyun Lim, Design Lab director at MIT explains.
They approached these new designs with a technology known as biodesign. Biodesign, at its core, is the practice of using biological material. In this case, they used bacteria. This bacteria is injected into the soles and upper of the shoe. As time goes on, the bacteria reacts to the heat your foot puts off. As it reacts, the bacteria eats the material away and creates channels through the shoe that allow your foot to breathe. Basically, the hotter certain areas of your foot get, the more the bacteria will react and the channel will form.
The biotech doesn’t stop there. The same bacteria that creates air channels can also help gather information. Within the sole, a chemical reaction is set off with the aid of sweat. The different levels of sweat can be sensed by a layer of electronic circuits in the shoe, converted into data, and then transmitted by using micro controllers. Information can then be gathered about the wearer such as severity of fatigue, pressure points, and temperature levels. They’re calling these soles “Deep-learning Insoles.”
“[Biodesign can] provide a new way of engaging with materials, a self-assembly of material, where bacteria can be responsible for completing the manufacturing of the shoe, where the whole experience of the shoe becomes complete when it interacts with the human body,” Yihyun Lim added.
Perhaps the most immediately affective tech would be their new adaptive packing. This new packing is designed to completely degrade over time and leave absolutely no trace.
“Through these organism-enhanced products we aim to create a stronger link between the user and the environment, by bringing awareness to the invisible organisms that are supporting our life cycle,” said Lim.
They seem to have a product on hand that will efficiently protect the shoes when shipped and help the environment in the long run.
Previous attempts at this technology have heavily involved electronic sensors and digital fabrication. All of which, are a really bad idea for frequently used sportswear.
Puma is no stranger to new and unique shoes and designs. One thing that remains the same, however, is that they continue to focus on the customer.
“Through this perhaps we can cultivate an emotional relationship with our products, a new user-centred experience where our organism-enhanced products become our ‘pets’, where it needs to be caressed and taken care of.”
We hope to see big things come from this new tech. This sort of breakthrough could mean big change for not only sportswear technology, but technology as a whole.
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