Milan – Sportswear brand Puma and MIT Design Lab showed the potential of upgrading athletic wear with biotechnology at their Milan Salone Internazionale del Mobile 2018 exhibit. The collaboration focused on integrating living organisms into athleisure in order to enhance individual performance, allow for greater personalisation and protect the user from external factors such as air pollution.
Research findings were brought to life in four future-facing products infused with micro-organisms. The Deep Learning Insoles contained microbial cultures that monitored biochemical vitals during exercise to track and quantify performance. The Carbon Eaters featured microbially activated stickers that change colour in response to CO2 levels. Embedded into clothing, they could protect athletes from exposure to polluted air.
The projects used micro-organisms not only to enhance wellbeing, but also to improve the process of purchasing and consuming future products. The Breathing Shoe concept provided tools for customisation based on microbiome patterns and the Adaptive Packaging project aimed to make the process of consumption more sustainable through biodegradable, inflate-on-demand shoeboxes.
As forecast in the Whole-system Thinking macrotrend, brands are exploring new manufacturing processes that infuse everyday products with biotech solutions.