Scientists at MIT have teamed up with New Balance to weave a new discovery into sportswear. The new discovery has to do with the expansion and contraction of natto cells relative to atmospheric moisture. Natto is a bacteria officially called Bacillus Subtilis natto and is a microorganism that lives inside dry rice stalks.
The bacteria has been used in Japan for a very long time to prepare a fermented soybean dish called natto. MIT scientists have used that expansion and contraction of natto to create an actuation effect that may one day allow the growth of sensors and actuators rather than the manufacture of them.
In the partnership with New Balance, the material dubbed bioLogic has been used in a product called “Second Skin” that is able to react to body heat and sweat. When the wearer gets hot and sweats, flaps around the heat zones open enabling the sweat to evaporate and cool the wearer down.
The animate cells in the material are harvested in a bio lab, assembled by a micron-resolution bio-printer, and then turned into fashion. It’s unclear when the material will be available for purchase and just how much it will cost. The material also has uses outside of clothing.