Innovation is inspiring – Blog 6

This week we wrapped up our discussion on biomimicry and with a TED Talk featuring Robert Full. My understanding of what biomimicry is/means remains the same, however the ways in which it can be applied and studied continues to grow. I’ve never really given much thought as to how a roach or gecko walks/runs until I saw this video. I found it very fascinating that they were able to create robots that are able to mimic the leg spring patterns of a roach and the peeling of lizards’ toes. At first I just thought is was a cute little robot project that I could see being sold in stores, until he explained how a robot like this would solve problems that previous robots ran into when collecting data on other planets. The RHex and Mecho-Gecko are revolutionary designs that prove that every creature and living organism has something that we can learn from to better our designs.

Neri Oxman’s TED Talk: Life Sustaining Clothing for Intergalactic Travel was probably the most eye opening and innovative thing I’ve heard of and seen. The garments themselves are microfluids that grow on the human body with rich colors and different designs. She calls it Material Ecology – evolution through design. I personally don’t see myself wearing something like this, but her ideas on the garment being able to repair damaged skin definitely has a place in the health department and even sports wear. I also learned through this video that there was a way to imitate the patter and design of the silk worm’s cocoon and produce mass amounts of silk without having to kill a single silk worm. This is fantastic news, because it has always been a big struggle for the apparel industry. Now it’s time for this method to become mandatory for all silk production. The companies that are already using this method should definitely advertise it and even include it in their label.

In the article Skinning Future Textiles through living material technologies and electronic multi-sensory experiences, the idea of designing textiles as a second ornamental skin sounds very foreign to me. A textile that communicates with the body and not only mimics the aesthetics of skin but also the sensory capabilities of human skin is very intriguing, however mimicking the aesthetics of human skin doesn’t sound appealing to me. I think that the article could have been written a little better. I feel like it jumped around a lot and left me wondering what this kind of textile would actually look like. It mentioned Fabrican, a patented spray-on fabric where the material is in an aerosol solution suitable for direct application onto the body of the wearer. This I would not feel comfortable with. I’m a little too modest to be walking around with clothes that look like they’ve been painted on my body, plus I prefer to wear loser-fitting clothing.

I think that Dr. Moore’s research took a lot of courage and shed some much needed light on how our industry and society treats elderly. She talked about how we don’t consider the elders as consumers but as a diagnostic, which I have to agree with. It’s the sad truth. We need to change the consumer model as well as the medical model. I really liked when she said that we don’t have patients, we have people; we are all different yet all the same. We all strive for quality of life and we all want to feel cared for. Another thing that really stood out to me in her presentation was that Design DisABLES. It was one of those ah-ha moments. Like Dr. Moore said, we as designers need to focus on designing for accessibility and usability, EmbraceABLE Technologies. Her presentation is something I will not forget and will be sure to keep in mind as I graduate and work in the retail industry.

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