Running Shoes Printed from Synthetic Biological Material Have A Life Of Their Own

Proto-cell technology is a burgeoning science that in its own way mirrors Mary Shelley's literary masterpiece, Frankenstein. Just as her monster was given life from non-living (dead) brain matter, so do proto-cells distort the divide between the living and the non-living.

London-born designer and researcher, Shamees Aden, has created a prototype of a pair of running shoes in collaboration with Dr. Martin Hanczyc, a controversial professor at the University  of Southern Denmark who specializes in proto-cell technology. These shoes question the future of new materials. They are 3-D printed and made to precisely fit the size of the wearer's foot like a second skin. The uniqueness of this material lies in its ability to react to movement and pressure by puffing up to provide extra support to the user if required.


Proto-Cell Running Shoe: Source: DezeenProto-Cell Running Shoe: Source: Dezeen


 Who is Shamees Aden?

Shamees Aden is a talented, London-based visionary, researcher and accomplished designer. Trained to create women's wear at Central St.Martin's College of Art and Design, she is focused on discovering new scientific methods and technologies for the creation of future designs. She has worked with the likes of Alexandra McQueen, Johnathan Saunders and Deryck Walker. Graduating in 2012 from the MA  Textile Futures course given at Central St. Martin's, she cemented her own future with her project, The Ambeo Trainer. Awarded the best in her class by Blueprint Magazine, this project was on display at the Alive/ En Vie exhibition held at the E-Space EDF Foundation in Paris.


Shamees Aden: Source:Wearable FuturesShamees Aden: Source:Wearable Futures


 The study of proto-cells

A burgeoning science coinciding with the advent of bio-inks and 3-D printing techniques, proto-cells have the potential to revolutionize the way we make materials. Their ability to mimic the properties of living cells makes them capable of growth, replication and evolution. These cells represent the cusp of an exciting new dimension in science, a material revolution that is just now being tapped and is within the grasp of human comprehension. In Aden's own words: "Encouraging the emergence of life from lifeless liquid chemicals manufactured artificially in a laboratory could provide us the building blocks to create a new man-made nature."


Alive/En Vie: Source: AmoboShoeAlive/En Vie: Source: AmoboShoe



How do these running shoes work?

According to Aden,"These special running shoes are self-healing...As you are running on different grounds and textures, the shoe is able to inflate or deflate depending on the pressure you put onto it and could help support you as a runner...When the shoes are removed, the proto-cell material can become dormant until it is needed again and then re-animated by dipping it into proto-cell soup to let them heel any damaged areas."

After every run, the shoes would be placed in a jar filled with living liquid proto-cell, which serves as a re-charger of sorts. It maintains the living organisms within the shoes and helps them rejuvenate.In an interesting aside, this liquid can be dyed to any color in the spectrum, creating a shoe that would reflect the proto-cell charger. The running shoes are made by proto-cells, which are not alive, but can be merged to create living organisms. By combining diverse proto-cells, they can thus be programmed to behave differently as they respond to heat, light and pressure.

The future of these amazing running shoes

These running shoes represent a tenuous trinity between synthetic biology, the non-living and the living. Emerging technologies are finding their way into the modern clothing designer's tool-box and it looks like they are here to stay.

 Closing thoughts on emerging technology:

You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete. ~  R. Buckminster Fuller



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