Ask any fan of Harry Potter and they’ll tell you the Bubble-Head Charm is the most effective spell for breathing underwater. But now, thanks to science and curiosity, even this fantasy could be joining its talking-robot and self-driving-car peers in making the leap from science fiction to reality. Japanese designer Jun Kamei has created Amphibio: “a gill garment for our aquatic future,” which he is presenting as part of his graduation thesis from London’s Royal College of Art (RCA).
Amphibio is a 3D-printed garment that was inspired by water diving insects, and functions similar to their gills. Kamei says it’s made from “a special porous hydrophobic material which supports underwater breathing by replenishing oxygen from the surrounding water and dissipating carbon dioxide.” Put differently, its micro-pores allow air from the water to pass in, without letting the water in.
Amphibio is still in prototype phase and currently can’t produce enough oxygen to fully sustain human breathing underwater. But it can be supplemented with a small oxygen tank – much smaller than then ones divers wear on their backs. The thinking is that technological advancements will soon enable humans to completely and autonomously breath underwater by simply wearing this gill, which can be 3D-printed in a number of complex shapes.
Kamei, a biomimicry designer who takes inspiration from nature’s design and our interactions with our natural environment, is graduating from RCA with an MA in Innovation Design Engineering. He embarked on the project in collaboration with RCA-IIS Tokyo Design Lab, an international collaborative initiative between RCA and the University of Tokyo.
The objective was to imagine our lifestyle in a world permanently semi-submerged due to sea level rises. “By 2100, a temperature rise of 3.2℃ is predicted to happen, causing a sea level rise affecting more than 30% of the global population and submerging the megacities situated in the coastal areas,” says Kamei. As livable land vanishes and populations grow, Kamei envisions “a future where humankind lives in very close proximity with water.”
Each year we like to review the many senior thesis exhibitions going on at art schools around Japan (and in this case, abroad) and feature exceptional student work. You can see past student work here.