ATOM Inspiring Innovation

A Whole New Meaning to "Blending In"

We know that we cannot become invisible. Yet. But don't tell that to James Bond as the new Spectre movie previews elude to tricks 007 has up his sleeve. Perhaps he will cloak himself and his ever so cool Aston Martin to become even more elusive than ever.

Well guess what, making things “invisible” may soon be a reality. MIT is working on a flexible display that can instantly change color and texture. And while this sounds like an awesome gadget developed by “Q”, nature has already figured out how to accomplish this and uses it to hide from its prey.

Octopus, squid, and cuttlefish are all part of the Cephalopod family. They have the ability to change their surface color AND the texture of their skin within seconds to blend into their surroundings. This adaptation has been studied for a while, and now MIT has identified a way to mimic these evolved traits. Engineers have successfully developed an elastomer with embedded mechanically responsive molecules that will alter color and texture with voltage variation.

Looking to nature to inspire design has been happening for centuries, and is a discipline now referred to as Biomimicry. Janine Benyus popularized the term “Biomimicry” in her 1997 book Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature and since then many resources and organizations, like AskNature, Biomimicry Institute, and Arizona State University’s Biomimicry Center have burgeoned, creating a vibrant network and available discipline.

As we have become more aware of our impact on the environment, we are turning to solutions that allow us to better coexist with the natural world. Biomimicry is an effective avenue to accomplish a lasting future, and has made itself prevalent across engineering, architecture, and product development. The ability to mimic the incredible adaptations of the all Cephalopod’s could do wonders in health monitoring, military product development, and fashion. All areas ATOM can bring this technology to life.

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