3D Printed Protocell Shoes. Source: Shamees Aden.
3D Printed Protocell Shoes. Source: Shamees Aden.

Wearables are rarely created in the 3-dimensional printing world. Eccentric pieces of high fashion wardrobe have been 3D printed for the runway, but the world has yet to see much functional clothing come from the medium. Some shoe designers are 3D printing shoes to prototype new models. A functioning day-to-day shoe has yet to be seen. At the Wearable Futures Conference researcher Shamees Aden revealed a 3D printed running shoe that is so advanced it could be on an episode of Star Trek.

As reported on theverge.com, Aden is working in conjunction with University of Southern Denmark professor Martin Hanczya to develop a cutting edge synthetic biological material that repairs itself overnight. The shoe will fit like a second skin and act as a living organism, morphing as a runner changes terrain to give support in needed areas on the fly.

Aden told theverge.com “the cells have the capability to inflate and deflate and to respond to pressure." This is akin to “pump” sneakers of the past, which allowed wearers to pump the shoe’s tongue to add more interior stability. Unlike Aden’s shoe, “pump” shoes could not be easily adjusted, let alone morph on the fly. Aden’s material would adapt as the runner moves, almost having a mind of its own.

Following a run the user would submerge the shoe into a jar filled with living liquid protocell, which acts as a recharger to rejuvenate the shoe for the next run.

According to Aden, the technology would not be fully developed and available until the year 2050.