No. 26

BeeWear - Can Humans become pollinating agents through responsive wearables?

By : abhishek soman

Entrant’s location : Spain



In the Anthropocene of complex living systems and networks, behavioral phenomena play a crucial role in sustaining ecosystems and the livelihood of diverse, interdependent species. Pollination is one such bilateral relationship between animals and flowering plants that help each other co-exist. Bees are considered as one of the most effective and active contributors in the process of pollination among other animal species. Decrease in their population due to multiple factors has led to an environmental imbalance globally, affecting not only the natural landscapes and agriculture on a large scale but also the Earth’s biological metabolism. Thus, this research project proposes a wearable concept - for humans – designed through the principles of bio-mimicry and its functionality that could potentially assist and aid pollination in urban areas (cities), semi-urban regions, and natural habitats. The umbrella of wearables is comprised of clothes and accessories designed to cater the wearer. Although, majority of the current wearables behave solely as an intermediate layer of protection and for accentuating visual creativity through fashion and trends; Contemporary technology has added the layer of performative concepts, accommodating information gathered by the external environment - other than interior spaces - or stimuli. These concepts focus on, and are majorly directed towards an individual’s health or creating awe of aesthetics with advanced mechanisms. The performative potential lacks the integration of an active ‘response’ contributing to the surrounding environment. ‘BeeWear’ reflects its functionality concerning the pollination backdrop, drawing parallels between humans and bee navigation and travel behavior. The methodology is composed of studying bee morphology, a series of design iterations based on natural interaction and scale optimization, functionality, geometries, fabrication processes, and supplemental fashion aesthetics. It caters to a holistic design aid, bridging the gap and re-establishing the link between humans and other species, by playing a proactive role in responding - actively and passively - towards the environment, refurbishing individual and social awareness and finally rethinking about the envelope of wearables.

What did you create?

BeeWear is a two-part FRCP (Future Reality Concept Prototype) which essentially acts as an accentuated second skin. This intermediary detachable layer helps and enables humans to become the vector and carriers of pollen for floral reproduction, making BeeWear more about its functionality than mere aesthetics. It’s a multi-scalar project that could potentially assist indigenous floral species through an urban yet intimate interaction. BeeWear helps the wearer release the captured pollen back with the help of manually activated multi-intensity vibrators. The Post-concept of BeeWear identifies the green urban/semi-urban areas of a city or a region – creating pollinating ‘hubs’, ‘arteries’ and ‘connectors’ to pollinate and promote indigenous species. The BeeWear App tells the user about #Pollinating hubs on the way #Species to pollinate #Pollinated species #Pollination score. This pushes individual wearer enthusiasm and awareness in engaging with the environment and play a role in giving back to nature and other species.

Why did you make it?

Bees are the most significant pollinators on which 60-70% of agriculture is dependent. Habitat loss due to multifarious aspects are directly affecting the Bee and other pollinating population. This indeed affects the local micro-ecosystem and in the long term the macro-ecosystem (humans included). In a research conducted in the USA (ref. in BeeWear research paper submitted at Institute of Advanced Architecture of Catalonia, IAAC), a t-shirt of about 5000sqcm captures approximately 7 million pollen on high pollen-producing days. One wash renders all the pollen washed and wasted. Even though pollen is technically indestructible the pollen captured in BeeWear can be also utilized for further use in scientific research and other useful purposes. Prototype 1.0 is designed for the arm due to its movement while walking and the possibility of proximity to heights of flowering plants. BeeWear proposes similar prototypes for calves, palms, and masks along with the arm.

How did you make it?

The initial study included studying the Bee morphology. Parameters to design and test prototypes were – Materials (resins), hair thickness (base and top), flexibility, height variations and importantly the adjacent distance between hair. Prototypes were tested for pollen release with the help of micro vibrators. It’s an ensemble of complementing parts forming a performative assemblage ‘BeeWear 1.0’ with the help of SLA (stereo-lithography) printing. The parts have been designed keeping in mind the muscular lines of the arm. The part size was optimized to fit the state of the art available SLA printers with a base plate of 14 x 7cm. The current two-piece prototype has easily detachable straps.

Your entry’s specification

The length of the full prototype extends to an arm's length of 55-65cm. Width range varies with a maximum of 13cm. Weight < 800gm.