WYIE 2017: A Tribute to Junior Inventors

AT ITEX 2017 we are all about paying tribute to the young and brilliant minds of our time. The World Young Inventors Exhibition (WYIE) will return again this year to send out a clear message: everyone has the capacity to invent. The exhibition is set to showcase what a touch of genius can do to an idea regardless of age.

So to get your excitement up about visiting WYIE this year, here’s a lineup of brilliant junior inventors from around the world who managed to get their playroom ideas out into the real world!

 

 

1) Popsicle

Bet you thought that the good old popsicle was invented by a multimillion dollar food company when really, it was the brainchild of an 11 year old boy named Frank Epperson. Frank’s idea was in fact accidental and it has got us all thinking “Why didn’t I think of that?”

In 1905, Epperson had left a mixture of powdered soda, water and a stick in a cup on his porch overnight when it was freezing. He woke up the next morning and voila, it was a frozen treat on a stick!

He initially called it the “Epsicle,” but the kids at this school kept asking for “Pop’s ‘sicle’ and that is how the name Popsicle was born. He got a patent on it in 1923 and then sold the rights to a bigger company. Today, the brand is owned by Unilever and they sell more than two billion Popsicles every year.
Source: www.greatbusinessschools.org

 

2) Trampoline

The trampoline was a result of a 16 year old gymnast bouncing off the idea of inventing a device that could help her improve her skills. Iowa native George Nissen visited a circus one day where he saw trapeze artists using safety netting to perform amazing feats. So, Nissen began working in his parents’ garage to develop the kind of bouncing apparatus he had thought up in his mind.

His first successful prototype was constructed while he was a student at the University of Iowa, and it was a big hit when he brought the model to a summer camp. Nissen then began efforts to bring it to the commercial public. The trampoline was named after the Spanish word for diving board – el trampolin. He obtained “Trampoline” as a trademark name for his device.
Source: www.therichest.com

 

3)  Braille

You might think that an effective system to help the blind read and write would have to be invented by an old but very bright professor. We all thought wrong because it was Louis Braille who invented Braille, an alphabet using raised dots, at the age of 15. Prior to that, each letter was raised and to read, one had to feel out each letter. The books were heavy and took a long time to read. Braille was actually born with sight but became blind at age three after an eye injury. He invented the Braille 5 years after he entered the Royal Institute for the Blind in Paris.
Source: www.kidsdiscover.com

 

4) Waterskiing

In 1922, an enterprising 18-year-old water-sports enthusiast, Ralph Samuelson, came up with the idea of waterskiing. However, apparatus for the sport was as sophisticated as what you see today. After trying wooden barrel staves and actual snow skis for skis, he ended up with his own design and bindings made of leather. Samuelson is also credited with the first ski jump using a greased ramp. He spent the next 15 years performing shows and promoting his sport, at one point even being pulled by a World War II flying boat to reach a speed of 80 miles per hour, making him the first speed skier. Unfortunately, he never patented his invention.
Source: www.therichest.com

 

5) Superman

The inventors of this super hero might come as surprise to many.  Two 18-year-olds who loved comic books and science fiction, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster began making cartoons and homemade fanzines while they were still in high school. One of their creations was the caped superhero called “the Superman”. It appeared 1933 as a short story, “The Reign of the Superman.” The idea of Superman however didn’t exactly fly of the shelves. After developing the character more, they were met with years of rejection — that is until 1938, when National Allied Publications (the precursor to DC Comics) selected it as the cover story for the company’s Action Comics No. 1. In 1939, Siegel and Shuster began the syndicated Superman comic strip; having sold the rights to National, they were never significantly acknowledged for their creation.
Source: www.mnn.com

So, the above inventions are just a few examples to whet your appetite. There’s plenty more where those came from and the best way to catch them all is of course at The World Young Inventors Exhibition (WYIE) taking place at ITEX 2017 from 11-13th May 2017. If you are keen on exhibiting at WYIE, CLICK HERE and secure your place now.

 

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You Need to Know The Next Wave of Wearable Tech

WEARABLE technology has been around for a long time, even though it may not have been in the form that we are accustomed to. A prime example would be calculator watches which were hugely popular in the early ‘80s. Though the idea of combining two or more functions into one gadget did not catch on until much later, at the turn of the century to be precise, wearable technology has progressed a lot since the humble calculator watch.

Wearable technology is not necessarily confined to fitness trackers or smartwatches, it is more than that, given the technological advances with accelerometers, gyroscopes, altimeters, optical heart rate monitors, solar panels, superior batteries and the list goes on and on, you get the picture.

Wearable technology is advancing at such a rate that one would be able to monitor not only one’s physiological condition such as heart rates, movements, sleep patterns, thereby tapping into various biometrics enabling us to take a deeper look into our body’s physiological state but the future promises that we would also be able to monitor our body’s psychological condition.

In 2015, the French football team FC Nantes and French riders in the 2015 Road World Championship had tested an ingestible device, which was jam-packed with sensors that enabled the user to monitor changes in core body temperature from a computer, in real time. This technology could potentially assist athletes to work out the ideal recovery time before another intensive session and base their training plans around that data. It is especially useful to athletes as it does away with the need to wear anything whilst training intensively, thus enabling the athletes to focus on what matters the most, training.

There is another type of device that measures emotions through multiple sensors including a Galvanic Skin Response to detect something called Electrodermal Response, which is deemed to be a great indicator of emotional state. Again, this technology syncs up with your phone and you can monitor your psychological condition, in real time. Further, with the device syncing up with mobile phones, the device can then provide recommendations and advise on how to reduce stress and keep your emotions in check. Wearable technology is not only a means for the modern man to consume large amounts of data regarding one’s body or habits, it also provides real life application in the realm of medicine. Currently, the technology is out there with regard to micro sensors embedded into the single use silicone contact lens. The purpose for the contact lens is to be able to detect subtle pressure changes in the eye, specifically intraocular pressure changes.

This enables a doctor to identify the best time to take those measurements and the correct time to take those measurements are of paramount importance as elevated pressure changes in the eye is linked to optic nerve damage and can cause blindness. With this technology, ailments afflicting the eyes may be a thing of the past. Wearable technology does not stop at merely monitoring how the human body behaves but its applications are limitless. Wearables could be passive devices which are embedded into either clothing or accessories and such passive devices enable the user to interact with other items around them.

For example, a user could have a passive device embedded in an accessory and that passive device interacts with the security system of the user’s home or vehicle. Think about it, you will never ever be locked out of your own home or worry about losing your keys, ever again.

 

Whilst it is premature to predict specific features or form factors that will prevail in the future, wearable tech presents an interesting case study. Never before has computing been small enough to be worn relatively comfortably around the clock on the body, presenting opportunities for breakthrough medical advancements and unfortunately, marketing nuisances.

Battery life of any smart devices is by far the biggest obstacle that prevents broad market adoption and retention. Power consumption of key components like processors, radios, memories, and sensors are the primary culprit in draining our devices. More research would need to be put in in order for battery life to be extended to such an extent that we will only need to charge those devices once a month. The problem faced by wearable technology is that many still use mobile phone parts to make their product. Whilst those parts work wonderfully well for the mobile phones, those parts limit the full potential of wearable technology. Another big area to watch out for is what happens to your information which has been collated by the various devices around you.

You may think that the collation of data may not affect you but what could potentially happen is that the information collated could be used to target marketing campaigns towards you. Though the evolution of hardware for wearable technology is far from perfect, the market is developing software for wearable technology in a frenzy and in the hopes of keeping up with the appetite of the users. Therefore, developing permission based software would be of paramount importance to ensure that the data collated are either disposed of ethically and safely or handled with the utmost integrity. The future of wearable technology can be viewed as scary as it continues to challenge the traditional way we interact with devices around us but there would be no progress if we do not take that chance.

 
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Charge Your Devices As You Move Your Body

A GROUP of Chinese and American scientists recently developed a fabric that can power wearable devices by harvesting energy from both sunlight and body movements. It can also be made on a standard industrial weaving machine.

The fabric is based on low-cost, lightweight polymer fibres coated with metals and semiconductors that allow the material to harvest energy. These fibres are then woven together along with wool on high throughput commercial weaving equipment to create a textile just 0.32mm thick.

In the journal Nature Energy, the researchers described how they used a layer-by-layer process similar to those employed in the semiconductor industry. Using this method, they coated polymer fibres with various materials to create cable-like solar cells that generate electricity from sunlight and also so-called triboelectric nanogenerators.

 

The nanogenerators rely on the triboelectric effect, by which certain materials become electrically charged when rubbed against another type of material. When the materials are in contact, electrons flow from one to the other, but when the materials are separated, the one receiving electrons will hold a charge.

If these two materials are then connected by a circuit, a small current will flow to equalise the charges. By continuously repeating the process, an alternating electrical current can be produced to generate power.

The material could be used to create larger energy-generating structures, like curtains or tents. The fabrication process should also allow the energy generating materials to be combined with other fibre based functional devices, like sensors.

Next, the researchers plan to focus on improving the efficiency, durability and power management of the textile while optimising the weaving and encapsulation processes to enable industrial-scale production.

Our editors are EXCITED upon hearing this as we can soon ditch away our bulky power-bank. On a last note to all inventors, do share your UNIQUE VALUE PROPOSITION of your invention/ idea in one line in the comment box below.

More Tech-related posts will be up next week, stay tuned 🙂

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Lab-Grown Beef Patty – Yay or Nay?

THE very first lab-grown beef patty was unveiled three years ago and cost a whopping US$331,400. But its creator Mark Post reported that it would just ring in at US$10 a piece.

Post told Arkansas Online that the lab-grown burger would hit the market in five years. Its hefty price tag was attributed to the initial investment in lab equipment. He grew the meat in a petri dish using bovine stem cells and the animal tissue built protein and muscle fibre, similar to what it would do in a live cow.

The Dutch inventor has spent 10 years in his Netherlands lab to tweak the stem cell burger and he aims to introduce fat into the burger to enhance flavour. Traditional meat industry has come under fire in recent years for its questionable practices and footprint on the environment while meat alternative companies have been trying to develop plantbased products.

If Post successfully commercialises his stem cell burger, we can say goodbye to “meat is murder”.

As a final note, our editors are excited to have a bite on it 🙂 Don’t forget to shout out your thoughts in the comment box below.

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What’s New in ITEX 2017?

AS we draw closer to ITEX 2017, we are proud to announce that ITEX is now supported by the Malaysian Ministry of Education (MOE) and also the International Federation of Inventors Associations (IFIA)!

ITEX 2017 is gearing up to deliver a highly impactful exhibition that provides commercialisation opportunities to all the brilliant inventions showcased in the exhibition. One of the features to achieve this would be the ITEX’s 2017 Startups Showcase, which would provide the companies the exposure their brand deserves. This Showcase is ITEX’s latest section catering to companies planning to make its break in the highly saturated startup market.

Almost all businesses spend many painstaking months grooming lucrative ideas into viable business opportunities. Gaining initial recognition from investors followed by market validation is what startups essentially need to take off. Acting as an accelerator, the ITEX 2017 Startups Showcase will help facilitate business needs and move them in the right direction while providing an enabling environment for stimulating engagements to flourish. Activities such as the pitching sessions are designed to give startups valuable face time with the right investors whom are equally as keen to place their bet on the next big thing.

To top it off, with Malaysian government’s latest announcement that 2017 will be the “Startup & SME Promotion Year”, ITEX 2017 Startups Showcase will definitely be a viable and relevant platform that provides multiple opportunities for businesses to rub elbows with the right crowd!

On the other hand, a showcase of hundreds of ingenious creations by young minds will also be presented through the staging of the World Young Inventors Exhibition (WYIE) in 2017. WYIE will be a co-located exhibition at ITEX 2017, which will be an overarching event for ITEX’s three annual flagship shows for budding inventors: the Asian Young Inventors Exhibition (AYIE), the Malaysian Young Inventors Exhibition (MYIE) and the Young Inventors Exhibition. These exhibitions will take on a new look fueled by better and bigger awe-inspiring ideas. The setting for WYIE will be meticulously planned to stimulate conduciveness in areas of thought flow, ideas exchange and to challenge the creativity and innovativeness among young minds.

8 Hands are Better Than 2?

HARVARD University researchers have invented a small and squishy “octobot”. It is the first robot made completely from soft parts and doesn’t need batteries or wires of any kind, and runs on a liquid fuel.

The octopus-like robot is made of silicone rubber, and measures about 6.5cm long. The researchers say soft robots can adapt more easily to some environments than rigid machines, and this research could lead to autonomous robots that can sense their surroundings and interact with people.

Conventional robots are typically made from rigid parts, which makes them vulnerable to harm from bumps, scrapes, twists and falls. These hard parts can also hinder them from being able to squirm past obstacles.

The octobot has eight arms that are pneumatically driven by steady streams of oxygen gas. This gas is given off by liquid hydrogen peroxide fuel after it chemically reacts with platinum catalysts.

The robot is controlled using tiny 3D-printed networks of plumbing. Whereas conventional microelectronic circuits shuffle electrons around wires, scientists in recent years have begun developing microfluidic circuitry that can shuffle fluids around pipes. These devices can theoretically perform any operation a regular electronic microchip can, previous research suggested.

 

The octobot’s microfluidic controller is filled with the liquid hydrogen peroxide fuel. As the fuel gives off oxygen, pressure from the gas builds up in the controller and eventually causes some valves to open and others to close, inflating chambers in half the robot’s arms and forcing them to move. Pressurised gas then builds up once more, triggering valve openings and closures that make the other robot’s arms move.

So far, the octobot can only wave its arms. The scientists are now working on developing completely soft machines that are more complex and can propel themselves.

We had “Paul The Octopus” and now we have “Harvard The Octobot”. Can’t wait to see if it will be ready by 2018 FIFA World Cup 🙂 *kidding*

We want to hear from you, share your thoughts in the comment box below.

 

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Seaweed That Tastes Like Bacon

IMAGINE eating Dulse, a type of seaweed that tastes like bacon when fried, minus the cholesterol and fats.

It seems too good to be true but researchers have quickly patented the seaweed that normally grows in the wild along the Pacific and Atlantic coastlines. The seaweed is actually a new strain of red marine algae called dulse and looks like red lettuce that is packed with all the good minerals. When fried, dulse tastes like bacon which is good news for vegans, vegetarians and health conscious people.

Aquaculture researcher Chris Langdon and colleagues at Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center have patented the new strain. Langdon has studied dulse, trying to figure out a way to make the nutritious algae grow quickly enough to become commercially viable feed for abalone, a type of edible sea snail. In 2004, he obtained a patent for a particularly fast-growing strain that can double its weight in just 10 days. However, a year and a half ago, Chuck Toombs, a business professor at Oregon State University suggested that Langdon might want to stop trying to grow dulse for abalone and start growing it for humans.

The succulent red marine algae is fast-growing and super nutritious plant that has about 16% protein by dry weight. It is also rich in minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. “Dulse is a super-food with twice the nutritional value of kale.” said Toombs.

Seaweeds and sea vegetables are known for taking up vitamins from the water so minerals such as iodine, potassium and calcium are part of the goodness of eating dulse.

Several Portland chefs, as well as the Food Innovation Center in Portland, are experimenting with the new ingredient including adding it to peanut brittle and trail mix, and even candied dulse chips added to ice cream. It is interesting to note that dulse has, for centuries been harvested in the wild and used in northern European cuisine.

 

In Europe, they add the powder to smoothies or add flakes onto food. It’s an ancient snack in Ireland, where people living along the island’s northern shores have traditionally gathered it. Health food stores around the world sell it, too.

“I think the public is ready to have something that tastes good and is good for you. There hasn’t been a lot of interest in using it in a fresh form.” said Langdon.

Researchers say their dulse, when fried, smells and tastes like bacon. This is a big relief for bacon lovers who indulge in this treat but cannot eat bacon due to healthy reasons, as bacon is known to have excess sodium and can elevate blood pressure and raise risk of heart disease.

Langdon, recently said in an interview with CNN that he anticipates dulse becoming a more common bacon replacement for people who are concerned about their cholesterol levels or who do not eat meat due to other dietary or religious reasons.

Dulse’s quick growth time is an advantage that the seaweed has over other food sources, especially livestock, which is expensive and time-consuming to rear.

It can be cultivated where there is a modest amount of seawater and some sunshine. “The advantage of farming sea vegetables, like dulse is that it does not depend on freshwater supplies and ecologically benefits the marine environment by removing nutrients and dissolved carbon.” added Langdon.

He and his colleagues grow dulse in cultured tanks of seawater producing about 30 pounds of seaweed each week. Growing the dulse in cultured tanks allows them to fine-tune the nutrient content of the water and grow dulse year round, but it also constraints their ability to scale their dulse operation to a commercially-viable size.

Although there’s been no research done as yet into how well the crop could be commercialised, marketers are now working on a plan for a line of specialty foods, with the vegan and vegetarian markets to mind.

Know Your Rights Before Being Taken For Granted

MOST SMEs are started by persons who were once employees in an organisation where they had acquired the necessary technical skills and knowledge to manufacture the product their employer was manufacturing. These same individuals had the entrepreneurial spirit burning deep inside them, and so, armed with the skill/knowledge and a little capital (usually from personal savings, a little help from family members or friends), they venture out on their own to start a business, usually in competition with their previous employer.

There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, unless they are in breach of their employment contract or misuse their employer’s trade secrets or confidential information. The entrepreneur is now on his/her own to conquer the business world.

Initially, the entrepreneur or company started by the employee turned-entrepreneur will compete in the market on price and perhaps superior service to attract new clients. However, one cannot use price advantage for long if one intends to remain in business or for the business to grow bigger. The entrepreneur of the new SME has to secure other competitive advantages to remain in business and for the SME to grow and expand into new territories. This is where Government sanctioned “monopolies” come to assistance. Yes, we are referring to Trademarks, Patents, Industrial Designs and Copyright (collectively referred to as Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs).

Anyone who obtains a registered trademark or a grant of patent or certificate of industrial design has a virtual monopoly over the usage of the right for a limited period of time. The proprietor of these IPRs has the exclusive right to stop others from using an identical or substantially similar trademark or from using their patent-protected technology. With this exclusive right to the IPRs, the proprietor can charge a premium price to their product or service to recover their investment – R&D costs, branding costs, etc.

 

Many entrepreneurs and SMEs perceive the costs of obtaining IPRs as expensive and IPRs themselves as difficult to enforce. Plus there are other misconceptions about IPRs too, and it would probably take an entire article in itself to address these. The fact is, the cost of obtaining IPRs – at least in Malaysia – is not high and is affordable by most SMEs. It is more costly to the business if IPRs are not secured.

Imagine spending thousands of ringgit and years to build up a brand name and yet neglecting to spend a thousand or two more to protect the brand as a registered trademark, the registration of which enables the SME to sue any infringer. Let us cite an actual case that happened in Malaysia: A restaurant business was set up in a prominent part of Kuala Lumpur. Business boomed. The partners never bothered to register the name of the restaurant as a trademark. Unknown to them, some ex-employees registered the business name as a trademark, and it did not end there. After obtaining the registration, they sued the restaurant for infringement of “their trademark”.

The restaurant had to face a long trial in the High Court. Not only did the partners suffer loss of sleep, they (along with the restaurant) were also made to look bad in the media (thus affecting their reputation) and incur thousands of ringgit in legal costs. However, they did finally manage to “get back” their trademark. Their ignorance in not recognising the market power of their trademark nearly cost them the loss of their business. So SMEs, no matter what business they are involved in, should always seek their IP consultants’ advice on obtaining IP rights for the competitive advantages they enjoy.

In the current business world and rapid globalisation of trade, IPRs have come to play a crucial role in the very survival of SMEs. Unless entrepreneurs and SMEs fully appreciate the strategic role IPRs play in the existence or survival of their business, they may be wiped out from business by their competitors who have learnt to use IPRs as a business weapon to destroy or maim rival businesses.

Contributed by P. Kandiah (Founder and Director of KASS International)

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New Meaning to ‘Eyephone’

WASHINGTON University’s assistant professor Shyam Gollakota and his grad students have created a contact lens that can connect to a smartphone over Wi-Fi. The technology is said to be able to bring Internet connectivity into any object, even disposable ones.

He invented a way for devices without batteries to communicate and power themselves by recycling signals from Wi-Fi devices or radio and TV stations. The researchers built their Wi-Fi contact lens to demonstrate the potential for their technology, known as backscatter, to improve medical devices, whether cheap sensors or more complex implants.

They also built a flexible skin patch that can sense temperature and respiration, a design that could be used to monitor hospital patients. Another prototype takes the form of a concert poster that broadcasts a snippet of the band’s music over FM radio. Recent tests have shown that backscatter devices recycling the signals from a Wi-Fi router can make connections over a range of up to 1km.

Backscatter technology makes it significantly cheaper to add connectivity to a device or object. Not only does it remove the cost of a battery, but the circuitry needed to communicate in this way is simpler and cheaper than conventional radio hardware.

Lastly, if you are one of the innovative leaders with great inventions, showcase them at ITEX 2017! Contact us at info@itex.com.my for more information.

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Spider Silk is Tougher Than Steel?

THE superior properties of natural spider silks are well known, and now efforts to use them to produce body armour are underway. The production of spider silk in commercial quantities holds the potential of a life-saving ballistic resistant material, which is lighter, thinner, more flexible, and tougher than steel.

So much so the US Army’s Soldier Protection and Individual Equipment Office has been funding research into the application of spider silk. The basic challenge lies in that spider are cannibalistic in nature and cannot be raised in concentrated colonies to produce silk in commercial quantities.

The global market demand for technical fibres is growing rapidly and these materials have become essential products for both industrial and consumer applications. By 2012, the annual global market for technical fibres had already reached approximately US$133 billion.

While scientists have been able to replicate the proteins that are the building blocks of spider silk, two technological barriers have stymied production. These barriers are the inability to form these proteins into a spider silk fibre with the desired mechanical characteristics, and to do this cost effectively.

To solve these problems, Kraig Biocraft Laboratories invented a new technology and acquired the exclusive right to use the patented genetic sequences for numerous fundamental spider silk proteins.

Kraig considers itself a world leader in genetically engineered spider silk technologies by applying proprietary genetic engineering spider silk technology to an organism which is already one of the most efficient commercial producers of silk: the domesticated silkworm.

Its spider silk technology builds upon the unique advantages of the domesticated silkworm for this application. The silkworm is ideally suited to produce genetically engineered spider silk because it is already an efficient commercial and industrial producer of silk.

Some 40% of the caterpillars’ weight is devoted to the silk glands. The silk glands produce large volumes of protein, called fibroin, which are then spun into a composite protein thread or silk.

 

Kraig is focused on the creation, production and marketing of high performance and technical fibres such as spider silk. Because spider silks are stronger and tougher than steel, they could be used in a wide variety of military, industrial, and consumer applications ranging from ballistic protection to superior strength and toughness.

However, there is another player offering sustainable and high performance fabrics. Bolt Threads, an American-based biotechnology company, recently raised US$50 million in Series C financing.

Since launching out of stealth in 2015, Bolt Threads has attracted the interest of both new investors and partners. The company is now producing its Engineered Silk protein at large scale, and is moving into yarn manufacturing this summer.

Bolt Threads was co-founded in 2009 by CEO Dan Widmaier, chief scientific officer David Breslauer, and vice-president of operations Ethan Mirsky. The three were fascinated with natural silk, its properties and the process of its production in nature. This curiosity led them to develop technology to produce Engineered Silk made wholly of natural proteins, creating a sustainable and durable new material. Together with partners like Patagonia, Bolt Threads is pioneering more sustainable and non-toxic processes for textile manufacturing.

“Man-made fabrics like nylon and polyester have transformed the fashion industry, for better and for worse,” said Widmaier. “The use of hydrocarbon polymers in these textiles has created a lingering toxic problem for the environment. At Bolt Threads, we’re re-thinking textile manufacturing, producing high performance materials that are also not nearly as harmful to the environment as existing options.”

Bolt Threads researchers originally studied real spiders’ silk, to understand the relationship between the spiders’ DNA and the characteristics of the fibres they make. Today’s technology allows them to make those proteins without using spiders.

After the studying of spider DNA, researchers then create sequences engineered for commercial production while keeping costs down. Primarily the fabric fibres are made of sugar, water, salts and yeast. The yeast produces silk protein in a liquid form during fermentation — very much like the beer-making process. After some processing, the liquid silk protein can be turned into fibre through wetspinning, which is the same way fibres like acrylic and rayon are made.

The company envisions to produce iPad covers, car seats and even name-brand clothing starting 2017.