Imagine a light shirt that automatically puffs out into a jacket when the temperatures drop. A textile lab is working on a fabric to do just that.
It looks like a standard square of fabric. But drop the temp and it begins to expand and “puff.” Othermaterials, a textile project of Otherlab, has developed a fabric that morphs entirely on its own.
No, it’s not magic. The fabric opens insulating chambers with what the brand calls a “biomorph actuator.” Simply put, different fabrics react by curving under certain temperatures. When stacked on top of each other, the change is three-dimensional. The resultant space between the fabric acts like insulation, much like the loft you find in down jackets and sleeping bags.
In this case, the change is as drastic as T-shirt thinness to down jacket insulation.
So far, this fabric is only proven on a small slice of fabric (watch the video below). But the research from Othermaterials could spur future textile innovations.
Othermaterials: Outdoors Application
The uses in the outdoors space could be broad. Think desert climates and environments with drastic daytime-nighttime temperature swings, or rapid ascents from warm valleys to cool mountaintops.
Sleeping bags could also benefit from this technology. Imagine a bag that gets more and more insulated as the night gets colder.
And for office settings, employees wearing biomorphing apparel could drastically lower building heating and cooling costs. Of course, the tried and true technique of taking your jacket off isn’t all that bad.
Current efforts with Othermaterials’ fabrics focus on how it feels against the skin, how it handles when washing and drying, and scaling manufacturing from small cloth to actual, wearable garments.
While only displayed in a small size of fabric, this technology is intriguing. Only time will tell how it could be applied in the real world.