Designer Debuts 3-D Printed, Self-Repairing Running Shoes

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The future is now. At the Wearable Futures conference in London earlier this week, designer and researcher Shamees Aden showcased a brand new concept that marries biology, technology, and physiology to revolutionize the running shoe. 

You may have heard of 3-D printing, but have you heard of protocells? That's what Aden and University of Southern Denmark professor Martin Hanczyc are using to construct this new shoe. Protocells, in a very simplified definition, are chemically-modified molecules that are not alive, but act like and have several properties of living organisms. These protocells can be programmed to behave depending on external factors like pressure, which in a shoe, would allow them to provide the extra cushioning needed in various terrains and according to your individual gait.

The 3-D printing aspect of this new shoe would allow you to print it to your exact foot, so it fits like a second skin. And after your run, you store them in a container of liquid protocells that rejuvenates the living parts of the shoe-- meaning no more tracking miles and wearing your shoes out. They stay the same as the day you bought them, forever. 

Hailed as a way to "blur the living and the non-living," the technology needed to create these shoes is, according to these researchers, not far off, and we could be slipping our protocell sneakers on as early as 2050. 

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