Synthetic biology could detect toxins and other poisons around your home.
It’s easy to forget that not all bacteria is bad, there are those that can help keep your digestive system in order, and soon there could be those that clean your feet. Tashia Tucker is a design student whose latest project explores how buildings in the future could feature floors embedded with synthetic bacteria that can eat dirt and clean your feet.
The project is called Synthetic Biology: The Future of Adaptive Living Environments, which looks at how bacteria could perform different tasks such as cleaning, adapting surfaces to meet a user’s needs, or detecting the presence of toxic substances. “I think within the next 10 years we will start to see these biologically designed surfaces being developed in labs, and within the next 15-20 years being available to the public,” Tucker told Dezeen.
One of Tucker’s ideas is a flooring material embedded with bacteria that could eat toxins right off your feet, as well as clean any dirt left behind by shoes. “The bacteria radiates a colour and swarms to colonise the surface when you walk on it, showing a presence of these toxins,” Tucker explained.
This idea also applies well to kitchens where it could detect the presence of pesticides, pathogens, salmonella or allergens. Her countertop concept is calibrated to react to the presence of potentially harmful ingredients by changing to a color that signifies a particular hazard. “This application could also have an impact on the health care industry. Hospitals, surgical tools and medical equipment could visually tell us when our environment is safe and clean,” said Tucker.
Images: Tashia Tucker