Manufacturing fabric is always an interesting industry for engineers to experiment in. There used to be an advertisement on TV from Sasol (seriously watch it, it’s a good ad) that asked the question of whether or not there could be a futuristic fabric that could regulate a human’s body temperature. Fabric that knew when it was hot and when it was cold and change the body temperature of the wearer accordingly.
MIT have taken it upon themselves to test out the manufacturing of fabric to design the future clothes we wear. Professor Hiroshi Ishii is at the helm of the bioLogic team that have noticed interesting results with an ancient bacteria called Bacillus subtilis natto. The team is putting the bacteria into clothing and due to the expansion and contraction of the natto cells to atmospheric moisture, they could potentially create a fabric that opens vents once an alteration of pressure is felt.
The team say they have invented a “second skin” that feels a body sweat and opens a host of flaps, which will ventilate the suit and regulate body temperature.
A Ph.D. candidate student working with the bioLogic team is Lining Yao. The investigation into creating this new fabric has been ongoing for two years now. She says, “A garment can become an interface that can communicate with your body. The reason we started to explore this bacteria is that we knew that in the natural world there are a lot of smart materials that are naturally responsive. It’s very sensitive to even tiny changes in the skin condition, so we thought an on-skin transformable textile would be a really interesting application.”
According to MIT’s Sharon Lacey, several clothes designers are interested in the developments and that this fabric could soon be introduced to the sports world.
Yao says that the project is revealing “not only how you can be inspired by nature, but how you can collaborate with nature.”
For an in-depth look at how the bioLogic is fabric is created check this video out: