Future Friday on Wednesday: High Tech clothing in time for the holidays

Gecko technology helping working women.
Gecko technology helping working women.

Ever wonder how a gecko can walk up a wall or across a ceiling and not fall off? You wouldn’t be the first one to do so. Scientists and engineers have been looking the gecko’s “technology” for some time and they have come up with some practical applications.

Climbing walls

Naturally one of the first applications for using a gecko’s technology was to climb a wall.  Elliot Hawkes, a mechanical engineer at Stanford, and his colleagues have developed pads that fit on hands and feet and allow the wearer to climb up a glass wall. With that capability all kinds of applications come to mind, from military uses to industrial uses. This is even being looked at for space exploration to allow astronauts to more safely move around outside the space vehicles. It could certainly be a boon to the window washing business and would have many potential industrial safety applications. It could help in the lifting process which would open up hundreds of uses.

The technology

In the literature this is referred to as an “adhesive”, but that implies to me a sticky residue that is hard to remove. That would certainly make it less attractive for a lot of applications. Fortunately that is not how gecko tech works. Geckos “can scale vertical walls and even hang upside down because their plump toes are covered in hundreds of microscopic bristles called setae, which generate a kind of electric force known as van der Waals force, strong enough to keep geckos stuck onto surfaces.” These devices are using the same principle, which is important in the next “device.”

Gecko inspired bra

This is an invention that many women in HR can appreciate. It was created by a CalTech Ph.D., Anthony Roy, in response to his future wife’s complaint that she did not have a good strapless bra to wear with dresses and tops that bared her shoulders. Roy was aware of the work going on in gecko technology and he quickly saw the opportunity to marry high tech and high fashion. Unlike other tapes and adhesives that are sticky and hurt to remove (so my wife reports) the gecko tech based bra leaves no residue, doesn’t hurt and better yet reportedly doesn’t move, so no constantly tugging up the bra throughout the night. Roy did a Kickstarter campaign and apparently has sold out of his first batch of bras. If you are interested check out Kellie K Apparel.
What better way to marry technology and practical application, especially given the number of strapless dresses worn on New Year’s Eve.
Photo credit: Capture from the Kellie K website

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