London-born designer Shamees Aden has fashioned the footwear of the future. The protocell shoe is 3-D printed and made from a synthetic biological material that would function like a second skin and could repair itself. And ohmygod they make your feet look like they’ve been swallowed by swamp monsters.
Protocells are non-living chemicals that can behave like living cells. These, for example, could inflate or deflate in response to pressure, allowing them to better support your foot. Aden has been working with Martin Hanczyc, a chemist at the University of Southern Denmark, to develop the concept of protocell trainers, which she presented at the Wearable Futures conference in London last week.
According to her speaker bio , Aden “believes that we are on the cusp of a material revolution led by emerging living technologies, and that science is becoming the future designer’s toolbox.”
In theory–though Aden speculates these shoes won’t be a reality until 2050–after a run, you’d take off your protocell shoe and drop it in a jar of special liquid, which would keep the cells healthy and could be used to dye them fun colors. It’d be like a houseplant you could wear, providing an excellent new excuse not to go running: Oh, whoops, I killed my shoes.
Interesting, but also icky. I, for one, am not quite ready to slide on a second foot-skin, much less a semi-living one that looks so much like the bubbling cornstarch slime I made in middle school science. (Though in other pictures, it looks more like bone marrow.)
Then again, the barefoot running crowd is probably already lining up to pre-order.