Vents on this bio-skin clothing open as you sweat, powered by ancient bacteria

From mechanics to textiles to 3D printing, the fashion industry has been leaning hard on collaborations with the tech world in recent years. In a new twist for the overlap between fashion and technology, a research team at MIT has developed a bio-skin fabric that is coated with highly sensitive and visibly reactive microorganisms called bacillus subtilis natto. The bacteria demonstrates physical changes depending on its exposure to humidity, so clothing made from material packed with the cells morphs as the wearer sweats or experiences a rise in temperature.

MIT Media Lab’s Tangible Media Group is pioneering the BioLogic research into bacillus subtilis natto and its real world applications. The bacterium is commonly used in Japanese cooking, particularly in a popular dish called nattō. But BioLogic says inspiration for its product came from an Japanese myth about a samurai who discovered the bacteria living in dry rice stalks, which at that time were used to weave bags for transporting soybeans and other dry products.

Manipulating the natto cells allows the BioLogic team to create varying effects in the textiles created with a layer of the bacteria. The process involves printing layers of natto-imbued biofilm onto spandex. Patterns and designs in the placement of individual natto cells creates a range of effects as the fabric interacts with the wearer’s humidity levels from factors like internal temperature and body sweat or external humidity levels and weather changes.

Versions of the biofilm printed with straight-cut lines of natto cells will fold up sharply when exposed to humidity, and a more uniform application of the cells allows the fabric to curl up in a more organic-looking pattern. All of these effects are attributable to the living, adaptable qualities of the natto cells. As humidity levels increase, an individual natto cell can expand so much that its size increases by up to 50 percent. In their partnership with New Balance and fashion designers from the Royal College of Art, the BioLogic team has created a collection of activewear that shifts with the wearer’s experience.

In apparel created with BioLogic’s biofilm spandex material, a 100 percent humidity level would cue the natto cells to curl open strategically placed flaps, creating breathability and a sort of biotech cool-down system in the clothing. The BioLogic team has their sights set on manipulating bio-enabled fabrics for further applications.

Naturally adaptable cell structures that interact with their surroundings create enormous opportunities for development that BioLogic believes are unique to organic technology: “Bio is the new interface. We are imagining a world where actuators and sensors can be grown rather than manufactured, being derived from nature as opposed to engineered in factories.” If BioLogic is any sign of the times, we may be wearing living clothing alongside our tech-enabled apparel sooner rather than later.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: heat-powered watches, phone cases with reflexes

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Gaming

Among hundreds of choices, these are the best 25 SNES games of all time

The Super Nintendo Entertainment System might be the greatest game console ever made, but what are the best titles for the system? Here are our picks for the best SNES games.
Gaming

Still have holiday cash to blow? Grab one of these awesome Xbox One games

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.
Computing

Keep your portable computer safe and shiny with the best laptop bags for 2019

Choosing the right laptop bag is no easy feat -- after all, no one likes to second-guess themselves. Here are some of the best laptop bags on the market, from backpacks to sleeves, so you can get it right the first time around.
Emerging Tech

Earth’s magnetic field is shifting, vital map can’t be updated due to shutdown

The Earth's magnetic field is moving, effecting navigation systems of all kinds. A model of the field should have been good until its scheduled update in 2020, however, it has moved so quickly that an update is required much sooner.
Emerging Tech

Scientists debate mysterious flash of light in space, known as ‘The Cow’

On June 16, 2018 there was an unusual flash in the sky which puzzled astronomers around the world. NASA researchers have been collecting data on the event and have shared two competing theories for what could have caused it.
Emerging Tech

Brightest quasar ever seen discovered by Hubble, may be star-producing machine

The brightest quasar even seen has been observed with the Hubble Space Telescope using a technique called strong gravitational lensing. The quasar is enormously energetic and may be producing thousands of stars per year.
Emerging Tech

Watch China’s moon mission touch down on the planet’s far side

Video has been shared of a lander's-eye view of China's Chang'e 4 mission touching down in the Von Kármán Crater on the far side of the moon. The craft captured footage of the descent with a camera which was attached to the probe.
Emerging Tech

SpaceX nails its first launch and landing of 2019, but job cuts loom

SpaceX has nailed its first launch and landing of 2019 with a mission that deployed more satellites for Virginia-based Iridium Communications. But the success was soured somewhat by reports of upcoming job losses at the company.
Emerging Tech

The best 3D printers for 2019

On the hunt for a new 3D printer? We've got your back. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned veteran, this list of the best 3D printers has what you're looking for.
Emerging Tech

The enormous ‘Flying Bum’ moves toward a commercial design

A prototype of the world's largest aircraft is being retired as the company behind it prepares to build a production model. The new Airlander 10, also known as the "Flying Bum," could be ready for commercial use by 2025.
Emerging Tech

Face-scanning A.I. can help doctors spot unusual genetic disorders

Facial recognition can unlock your phone. Could it also be used to identify whether a person has a rare genetic disorder, based on their facial features? New research suggests it can.
Emerging Tech

Lasers and bovine breathalyzer help determine how much methane cows produce

Cow farts and belches don't sound like catastrophic threats, but they contribute to the massive amounts of methane in the atmosphere. Recently, scientists set out to establish the numbers.
Emerging Tech

Researchers discover a way to make 3D printing 100 times faster using light

Researchers at the University of Michigan have invented a new method of 3D printing which is up to 100 times faster than conventional 3D-printing processes. Here's how it works and why it could prove a game-changer for 3D printing.