If Fish Could Talk, They Would Pitch this Idea to Investors

by on Jan 22, 2016
water cleaning swimwear

Entrepreneurship in the recent times has come to largely mean addressing some human problem through some digital technology, especially mobile apps.  The spongesuit offers a ‘think different’ perspective.

Spongesuit – A swimwear that cleans water

Who has the mood to think about entrepreneurial opportunities hidden in the problems the birds, the trees or the fish might be facing? For example a swimwear that cleans the polluted oceans and makes life healthier for its dwellers. Are we kidding?

Not really.  Professor Mihri Ozkan from University of California has actually designed a swimwear prototype – spongesuit – that could mitigate environmental problems faced by our aquatic friends.

The spongesuit swimwear turns into a cleaning agent when a wearer swims around in the ocean.

The material used is a reusable sponge. Being porous, it repels water and absorbs harmful contaminants. Reportedly, the 3D printed Spongesuit can clean up oil, chemical spills, and even desalinate water.

According to Daily Democrat Science, “the Sponge material can absorb up to 25 times its own weight and it doesn’t release the absorbed materials unless it is heated at a temperature exceeding 1,000 degrees Celsius.”

The idea was the brainchild of three people – Pinar Guvenc, Inanc Eray and Gonzalo Carbajo. They are partners of Eray Carbajo, an architecture and design firm based in New York City and Istanbul.

The swimwear has won the first prize in the Reshape15: Wearable Technology Competition.

And no, the spongesuit does not harm the wearer. The UC-Riverside team clarified that the pollutants will be stuck in the inner pores of a reusable sponge material and will not touch the skin. It can be reused up to 20 times without losing its absorbency and is very cost effective to produce

The material could potentially be used even in paint applied to airplanes and satellites, or as chunks of electromagnetic shields in unmanned aerial vehicles.

Apart from showing hope that one day ocean bathers will be able to contribute to a cleaner ocean simply by swimming in the waters, the Spongesuit reminds us that entrepreneurship is really about solving a problem and not just setting up a business.  There are plenty of problems that badly need to be solved, but the solutions may not necessarily fit on a hand-held phone device.