Animal scales inspire the creation of a protective and supportive wearable

SCALED. Flexible and supportive wearable inspired by animal scales

NEWS AND VIEWS: Natalie Kerres from Imperial College, London has taken inspiration from the protective and flexible scales of animals to create SCALED, which, as I understand it, is a fledgling business with great potential concerned with the manufacture of sports clothing designed to support and protect the bodies of athletes. No doubt it will be used in any other situation as well if it proves to be successful.

SCALED. Flexible and supportive wearable inspired by animal scales

SCALED. Flexible and supportive wearable inspired by animal scales . Photo: Imperial.ac.uk website.

The normal way of treating joint injuries is to restrict movement through plaster casts or braces, but Natalie has decided that a more flexible but equally supportive wearable will do the job better as it will avoid muscle wasting and stiffness. By providing support with flexibility it is hoped that rehabilitation will be speeded up.

You can see from the image that the products incorporates bespoke interlocking protective scales which precisely limits motion while providing support. An algorithm has helped to design it. The scales also can help to prevent injury without limiting motion.

Natalie has secured funding from the MedTech SuperConnector prgroamme (MTSC). The organisation provides access to industry partners, funding and training to help progress the projects such as this one into the commercial domain. I guess it is always tricky to convert an idea into a commercial success. No doubt this organisation facilitates that process.

Natalie is working at the Dyson School of Design Engineering in the Additive Manufacturing Lab. This appears to be one of Mr Dyson’s success stories. We know that he is very interested in innovation and promoting fresh ideas and technology which can be profitably commercialised.

P.S. Perhaps the best known animal with scales as the pangolin. Sadly, its scales cannot protect it from human persecution. In fact its scales are the reason why it is persecuted because the Chinese believe that eating the scales carries health benefits. How about that for turning Natalie’s idea on its head?