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Flaps automatically open and close depending on body heat

MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) has developed Second Skin clothing. Utilising bacterium that reacts to levels of humidity, the fabric becomes more breathable as the wearer’s body heat increases by opening and closing flaps.

The inventors of this new clothing fabric have adapted a living Bacillus Subtilis natto cell as a humidity sensitive nanoactuator. It’s a bacterium apparently used in Japanese cooking, and it reacts to moisture and humidity levels. The bacteria cells get bigger the higher the level of humidity, the individual cells can change as much as 50 percent.

second skin 2.jpg

second skin 2.jpg

"The synthetic bio-skin reacts to body heat and sweat, causing flaps around heat zones to open, enabling sweat to evaporate and cool down the body through an organic material flux. In collaboration with New Balance, bioLogic is bringing what once may have lived in the realm of fantasies into the world of sportswear," says MIT.

Working with the Royal College of Art,  the MIT Media Lab's Tangible Media Group BioLogic project has found a way of incorporating this technology into clothing, which it has called Second Skin. The outfit in the video above shows flaps that react to the body heat. As the  body heat rises through exercise, the flaps curl and open up, increasing the ventilation and allowing excess body heat to escape.

To make use of this technology in clothing, a composite biofilm is created from the cells and can then be integrated into a traditional fabric. The printing of the biofilm can alter the characteristics of the flaps, how much they react to body heat and how much they open. Because the cells react to levels of humidity, they only open as much as is necessary.

“We’re just at the beginning,” admits Lining Yao of MIT. It certainly has really interesting applications for cycling. Many cycle clothing manufacturers attempt to tackle overheating with vents you can open or close with a zip, but imagine a jacket with rear vents that automatically opened as you built up heat during a ride. We’re probably many years from seeing this become a reality, though, so don’t get your hopes up. But it's an interesting glimpse of what future cycle clothing could be like.

More at http://tangible.media.mit.edu/project/biologic/

David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.

11 comments

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dafyddp [443 posts] 2 years ago
8 likes

I once saw an advertisment in a climbing magazine for a jacket that had a  'variable-temperature-control-system'. This was an interesting interpretation on what previously might have been called 'a zip'

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PaulBox [679 posts] 2 years ago
3 likes

Looks a bit draggy.... 

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CXR94Di2 [1903 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Un zip your jacket if you're hot, same outcome, cooler but slower

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barbarus [513 posts] 2 years ago
3 likes
dafyddp wrote:

I once saw an advertisment in a climbing magazine for a jacket that had a  'variable-temperature-control-system'. This was an interesting interpretation on what previously might have been called 'a zip'

I'm guessing such a jacket would be put on using the torso-cranial insertion portal?

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peted76 [827 posts] 2 years ago
1 like

I love a bit of new tech and this is a leap forward! 

Can't wait to see when, if and what this develops into.

 

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earth [385 posts] 2 years ago
3 likes

This might be a good idea if they could make the vents open like pores instead of what appear to be flaps.  The flaps are not going to do anything for aerodynamics.  Either way holes opening on the jersey are going to mean an interesting pattern of sunburn.

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mike the bike [995 posts] 2 years ago
1 like

All my life I've been waiting for an organic material flux .....

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ofathens [30 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Probably more expensive than Rapha

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Paul J [948 posts] 2 years ago
2 likes

I have a funny feeling they havn't yet worked out how you'll be able to wash this fabric.

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velo-nh [135 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
Paul J wrote:

I have a funny feeling they havn't yet worked out how you'll be able to wash this fabric.

Cold water?

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jollygoodvelo [1685 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Hurrah for SCIENCE.

 

Great, so it can increase ventilation.  But is passing airflow more or less effective at absorbing moisture than the wicking effect of modern lycra/etc fabrics?