Translucent leather gives an ancient material a futuristic twist

As tech geeks, we may not be the best choice to talk about cutting-edge fashion. We do know a bit about cool materials science, however — which is why we were excited to hear that Denmark-based ECCO Leather has developed and launched a crazy new material it describes as the world’s first soft and transparent cowskin leather.

If you’ve ever wanted a coat that resembles the translucent, leathery wings of Batman villain Man-Bat, well, today’s your lucky day!

The pliable (and, just as importantly, water-resistant) material is called Apparition, and was developed by researchers at ECCO after a three-year period spent studying ancient Egyptian and Greek tanning techniques. It’s available in a range of vibrant colors, and its creators hope that it will soon pop up in everything from bags and shoes to jackets and shirts.

“The technique of keeping the leather soft, is obviously a trade secret,” said Sruli Recht, creative director and lead of the ECCO Leather project. “It came out of the challenge of rethinking leather aesthetics in terms of both visual and touch properties. We asked ourselves: ‘What would be the Holy Grail of leather?’ I would say it would be creating a futuristic material that still maintains the properties that we know, love, and require from leather.”

Recht said the goal became translucent leather. He added that ECCO was deeply inspired by what other designers and tanneries had achieved in the realm of transparent and translucent leathers over recent years, “but our aim was to identify concrete ways we could combine our deep tanning experience with the significant horsepower of our state-of-the-art [research and development] facility in the Netherlands to push the technology forward, solving practical issues that have eluded the industry up to now, like lasting pliability and the ability to get wet.”

The results, we have to say, are a tiny bit Silence of the Lambs — but pretty cool, nonetheless.

Photography

MIT science photographer isn’t an artist, but her work could fill galleries

Felice Frankel is an award-winning photographer, but she doesn't consider herself an artist. As a science photographer, she has been helping researchers better communicate their ideas for nearly three decades with eye-catching imagery.
Emerging Tech

Warm ski beanie instantly hardens into a head-protecting helmet upon impact

Wool hats are way more comfortable than hard helmets. You know what they're not? Safer. That could soon change, thanks to an innovative new ski beanie which instantly hardens upon impact.
Photography

Leica targets street photographers with a pricey camera bundle

Described by the camera company as "your perfect companion in the city," Leica's Street Kit comprises a Leica CL camera body, a 23mm (35mm full-frame equivalent) F2 lens, batteries, a handgrip, and a black leather carrying strap.
Emerging Tech

This exotic new material somehow gets thicker when stretched

Scientists at the U.K.’s University of Leeds have discovered a synthetic material which actually gets thicker the more it’s stretched. Here are some of the things it could be used for.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

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!
Emerging Tech

New experiment casts doubt on claims to have identified dark matter

A South Korean experiment called COSINE-100 has attempted to replicate the claims of dark matter observed by the Italian DAMA/LIBRA experiment, but has failed to replicate the observations.
Emerging Tech

It’s no flying car, but the e-scooter had a huge impact on city streets in 2018

Within just a year, electric scooters have fundamentally changed how we navigate cities. From San Francisco to Paris, commuters have a new option that’s more fun than mass transit, easier than a bike, and definitely not a car.
Emerging Tech

White dwarf star unexpectedly emitting bright ‘supersoft’ X-rays

NASA's Chandra Observatory has discovered a white dwarf star which is emitting supersoft X-rays, calling into question the conventional wisdom about how X-rays are produced by dying stars.
Business

Amazon scouted airport locations for its cashier-free Amazon Go stores

Representatives of Amazon Go checkout-free retail stores connected with officials at Los Angeles and San Jose airports in June to discuss the possibility of cashier-free grab-and-go locations in busy terminals.
Emerging Tech

Full-fledged drone delivery service set to land in remote Canadian community

Some drone delivery operations seem rather crude in their execution, but Drone Delivery Canada is building a comprehensive platform that's aiming to take drone delivery to the next level.
Emerging Tech

Intel wants its fleet of drones to monitor America’s aging, unsafe bridges

Intel has signed a deal to use its Falcon 8+ drones to carry out bridge inspections. The hope is that these drones will be useful in spotting potential problems before they become serious.
Emerging Tech

Transplanted pig hearts show promise in baboon trials. Are humans next?

Researchers in Germany have successfully transplanted modified pig hearts into baboons. The results take us one step closer to ending organ transplant waiting lists for good. Here's why.
Emerging Tech

An A.I. cracks the internet’s squiggly letter bot test in 0.5 seconds

How do you prove that you’re a human when communicating on the internet? The answer used to be by solving a CAPTCHA puzzle. But maybe not for too much longer. Here is the reason why.
Emerging Tech

Makerbot is back with a new 3D printer that’s faster and more precise than ever

MakerBot's new Method 3D printer aims to bridge the gap between home 3D printers and more industrial 3D printing tech. Here are a few of the tantalizing things you can expect from it.