Conspiracy Nation


These artificial gills will let you live underwater

A new invention may be the solution to problems caused by global warming and rising sea levels. Japanese designer Jun Kamei has combined 3D printing technology with the natural breathing abilities of ocean creatures to create a garment which allows humans to remain underwater for extended periods of time. This brings humans one step closer to a futuristic world spent under the sea.

The Beauty of Biomimicry

Biomimicry is a relatively new approach to innovation which applies strategies found in nature to solve human challenges. Previous examples of this out-of-the-box technique include a tree-climbing robot which imitates an inchworm and a prosthetic arm in the shape of a tentacle.

In this case, the Amphibo, as the invention is known, is made from a special porous fabric that repels water, replenishes oxygen, and disperses carbon dioxide. The design has two main sources of inspiration. The gills of a fish has been replicated in the overall shape of the garment. In addition, the fabric is designed to mimic the water-repelling skin of underwater diving insects which allows them to retain a thin layer of air on their bodies.

Applications Underwater
While a prototype has been printed and works effectively, more design engineering is needed to make this underwater breathing apparatus fully functional. The device is yet to be completely tested for its ability to allow humans to survive underwater. One application under consideration is that this invention could be worn with a much smaller oxygen tank, allowing humans to remain underwater for much longer than is currently possible.

The latest ice collapses have led scientists to pessimistically predict that 153 million people currently live on land that will be submerged by the year 2100. Humans have always been able to come up with original and creative solutions to dire problems. Perhaps young design engineers like Jun Kamei, with their biomimicry approach, will provide the answers to our current environmental threats.