MIT researchers have created special non-slip shoes inspired by kirigami, the traditional millenary Japanese art of papermaking.
Sometimes, you have to look to the past to design the future. This is the “moral” of the invention presented by a team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The researchers created special non-slip shoes inspired by kirigami, the traditional Japanese art of papermaking. This age-old technique increases the friction of surfaces and, according to the researchers, could increase grip on slippery, wet or icy surfaces. Inspired by the way Japanese artists cut and fold paper, the researchers developed a coating with concave-shaped tips to be applied to the soles of shoes. The particularity of the project is that this coating can remain smooth when the wearer is standing still, while the tips pop out during the movement of the walk. This movement – explain the authors of the project which is presented in the scientific magazine Nature Biomedical Engineering – “increases friction because the sharp points can go in and out according to the elongation that is applied to the material”. A series of texts conducted with volunteers showed that the amount of friction generated by kirigami inspired shoes was up to 35% higher than that of a traditional pair of shoes.
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Non-slip shoes inspired by kirigami
Giovanni Traverso, researcher at MIT and one of the authors of the project, explained how the idea of drawing inspiration from the Japanese art of kirigami to design high-tech shoes was born. “With this study we decided to face the challenge of being able to prevent falls, in particular on icy and slippery surfaces, and we developed a kirigami inspired system able to facilitate the increase of friction with a surface. The novelty of this type of surface is that we have a change of shape from a flat surface in two dimensions to a three-dimensional geometry, with spikes coming out. These elements can control friction, because the sharp spikes can go in and out according to the elongation that is applied to the material. We anticipate that kirigami coatings applied to shoe soles could help mitigate the risk of slipping and falling in a wide range of environments”.
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