Research Critique: Biometrics

Neri Oxman and a group from the MIT mediated matter group recently collaborated with Christoph Bader and Dominik Kolb on a project known as ‘Wanderers: Wearables for Interplanetary Pilgrims’. With the intention of sustaining life through voyages beyond our planet,  the wearables are created to hold life sustaining elements contained within 3D printed vascular structures with internal cavities. It makes use of a technology that produces digitally manufactured wearables with multi-material 3D printing machinery.

3D printed vascular structures with internal cavities

 According to the mediated matter group, they’ve found a way to embed ‘living matter in the form of engineered bacteria within the 3D structures in order to augment the environment. living matter within these structures will ultimately transform oxygen for breathing, photons for seeing, biomass for eating, biofuels for moving and calcium for building.’

The internal cavities are infused with synthetically engineered microorganisms to make the hostile habitable and the deadly alive. Inspired by natural growth behaviour, starting as seeds, the biomimicry process of the technology simulates growth by continuously expanding and adapting its shape to the environment. The wearable is capable of generating the basic elements needed for survival through elements that photosynthesise, bio-mineralise to strengthen human bone or contain florescence to provide light in dark places.

Skip to 1:04 to watch how the growth process works

multi-material fluidic valve 3D printed using the connex 500 stratasys 3D printer

3D printed fluidics and a syringe pump. mediated matter

I found this wearable to be very fascinating due to its potential for the future, in fact, it already sounds almost straight out of science fiction itself. Yet, I do have my doubts when it comes to the idea of holding all these bacteria that can be potentially deadly, on my body. If one of the cavities breaks, it could threaten my life rather than prolong it. The form of the wearable does not seem very pragmatic either for travel so I do hope the design can be improved in this aspect.

The wearables were produced on an ‘objet500 connex3 color multi-material 3D production system’