A team of MIT researchers have now done sports gear one better: they’ve made a self-ventilating workout suit that actually responds to your sweat and body heat. How did they do it? Live microbial cells.
You heard us right: the suit contains microorganisms. The suit is 3D-printed using a process that allows these little critters to be printed onto sheets of natural latex. There, they help a series of flaps shrink and expand in response to how hard you’re working. The flaps range in size from thumbnail- to finger-sized, depending on how much heat and sweat its particular area of the body gives off. “People may think heat and sweat are the same, but in fact, some areas like the lower spine produce lots of sweat but not much heat,” co-author Lining Yao says in a press release. “We redesigned the garment using a fusion of heat and sweat maps to, for example, make flaps bigger where the body generates more heat.”
It may seem odd to have a bunch tiny living things all over your gym clothes, but don’t worry: it is completely safe for humans to come in contact with it. When co-author Wen Wang tried the suit on herself, she exclaimed, “It felt like I was wearing an air conditioner on my back.” Eat your heart out, Iron Man.