PUMA & MIT Design Lab Are Developing Self-Adapting Footwear

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PUMA has partnered with MIT Design Lab to take the future of footwear and sportswear to the next level. Specifically, they have been working on insoles that utilize bacteria to measure athletic performance, in addition to sneakers that “breathe,” reports Dezeen.

The “Adaptive Dynamics: Biodesign” project was debuted during Milan Design Week, thus showcasing a series of cases that test how bacteria can improve performance and sustainability when it pertains to sportswear design.

“We see the future of athletic gear to be real-time adaptive to the biology of the user and to the active environment,” says MIT Design Lab director Yihyun Lim.

According to the report, the Breathing Shoe is a “trainer that changes in response to the biology of the wearer.” The upper in turn notes construction from a material that includes cavities filled with bacteria, with said bacteria eating away at the material to create a pattern of air passages unique to the wearer.

Alongside the Breathing Shoe, PUMA and MIT Design Lab also present Deep Learning Insoles that “could collect biological information about the wearer by using bacteria that responds to chemicals in sweat both in the short-term and long-term,” Dezeen adds. Electronic circuits detect the changes, as the data — used to measure fatigue and other factors — is then transmitted by micro-controllers.

“[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,” Lim continued.

“We are imagining products that can adapt to users and the environment in real time, without the user having to do anything, [to] optimize their movement, body and their performance. Products will behave on behalf of the athlete, in real time and effortlessly.”

Furthermore, the Carbon Eaters T-Shirt responds to carbon in the air by changing color to highlight air quality and the presence of substances that could alter performance, while Adaptive Packaging makes use of biomaterials via a sleeve that’s inflated by emitting gasses as a response to a heat. This package also self-degrades over time, leaving no waste behind.

“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,” Lim concludes. “Through this perhaps we can cultivate an emotional relationship with our products, a new user-centerd experience where our organism-enhanced products become our ‘pets’, where it needs to be caressed and taken care of.”

For more on PUMA and MIT Design Lab’s innovative footwear and sportswear project, visit Dezeen.

In other sneaker news, Shake Shack and Allbirds have made a shoe out of eucalyptus trees.

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