Thursday, December 5, 2013

Color-Changing Athletic Wear

Imagine a world where one shirt can present as a different color each day of the week, at your whim. The 40 second mark on this advert suggests this seemingly magical visualization is approaching reality.

How might such a technology operate?

According to  myriadwhimsies.wordpress

"In the world of electroreactive materials, there’s been work done in the realms of smart glass and e-paper – which usually take one of two forms. A lot of e-paper involves tiny reservoirs of magnetically influenced ink particles which can be made to either recede and hide, or pushed out to the surface to present themselves. Doing so, makes every tiny reservoir a ‘pixel’ that can be turned on or off with a magnetic pulse. Chameleons use a similar system of tiny reservoirs.

Smart glass, on the other hand, can be considered ‘one giant pixel’ – where you change the transparency of a whole window in one go. This is done using a thin film consisting of 5 layers sandwiched together, one of which can take or give electrons to actually change and thus become transparent or opaque."

I quite like the chameleon reference as a believer in biomimicry as the forthcoming path to human innovation.  

A recent visit to Science Center in Ithaca, NY introduced me to the existence of a robot able to scale vertical walls.  It's feet were modeled after those of the gecko whose toes are coated in millions of hairs 10 times thinner than human strands.  These hairs split even smaller and the tips produced employ 'van der Waals force' to molecularly attract wall surfaces.  According to Wired Magazine, the force is so strong "a gecko can hang and support its whole weight on one toe.

The architecture field is pulling from nature in effort to create structures that revive the earth rather than deplete it.  Michael Pawlyn elaborates in the Ted Talk below.   This is the kind of work we need to be celebrating and bringing into the mainstream while environmental damage is still susceptible to a reversal.

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