Karen Fratti
May 24, 2017 9:49 am
Sahacha Nilkumhang/Getty Images

You’re supposed to break a sweat at the gym, but when you’re doing a long workout and your t-shirt is sticking to your back, it can sort of kill your vibe. Luckily, there might be an solution. The geniuses over at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology invented a self-ventilating “bacteria” shirt, so it airs itself out while you work. There are different sized ventilating flaps that open in and out as your body temperature changes. The only weird thing? The shirt is made of actual bacteria, which is what directs the flaps to move. They’re also working on a running shoe that does the same thing. Don’t let the thought wearing “live microbial cells” gross you out — the bacteria are safe to touch, consume, and they’re sort of sustainable. Using new genetic tools, scientists can produce a bunch of them at one time and make them do different things, like light up in the dark.

So in a few years you could take a run at night and stay safe with your shirt. And no one will bother you because you’ll have weird bacteria flaps cooling you down. It’s not a terrible self-defense mechanism.

The only problem? They haven’t figured out a way to wash the shirt yet, without the bacteria getting rinsed off in the spin cycle, totally negating the whole thing. But! Not being able to wash it might be a good thing. Eventually, the team also wants the shirts and shoes to emit a “nice-smelling odor” and live bacteria could actually eat your spilled wine and nacho cheese — and that would actually cause the shirt to smell like whatever they were noshing on. So you’d be really cool at the gym, but you might also smell like whatever you ate for lunch.

It’s a tough call. Would you rather have someone who smells like a burger while you’re on the machines or whatever body spray they used that morning?

You won’t have to make a decision just yet, the shirts are still just prototypes. But if you see someone flapping at the gym in the future, don’t judge them. They save on laundry and aren’t even sweating.

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