Protocell Trainers by researcher Shamees Aden would be 3D-printed to the exact size of the user’s foot from a material that would fit like a second skin. It would react to pressure and movement created when running, puffing up to provide extra cushioning where required.
Aden developed the project in collaboration with Dr Martin Hanczyc, a professor at the University of Southern Denmark who specialises in protocell technology.
Protocells are very basic molecules that are not themselves alive, but can be combined to create living organisms.
By mixing different types of these non-living molecules, scientists are attempting to produce artificial living systems that can be programmed with different behaviours, such as responsiveness to pressure, light and heat.
During the Wearable Futures conference in London Aden said that the cells have the capability to inflate and deflate and to respond to pressure. As one is running on different grounds and textures it’s able to inflate or deflate depending on the pressure you put onto it and could help support you as a runner.
After a run, the protocells in the material would lose their energy and the shoes would be placed in a jar filled with protocell liquid, which would keep the living organisms healthy. The liquid could also be dyed any colour, causing the shoes to take on that colour as the cells rejuvenate.