Modern society is changing at a breathtaking pace. Instead of “conspicuous consumption” described by American economist Thorstein Bunde Veblen (1857-1929), people are becoming more and more interested in “responsible consumption”, “conscientious brands,” environmental protection, energy-efficient and environmentally friendly trends. Sociologists refer to the current stage of development as the post-industrial society dominated by the smart-tech sector and the knowledge industry based on topical research projects, the main driving force of the new economy.
For centuries, the results of science and technological progress subjugated and destroyed Nature. Today, energy-efficient inventions make life easier, help to conserve natural resources plus forge a “conscientious” attitude toward the environment. Fashion designers’ new collections often include the word “conscious” meaning that their clothes, made from such things as recycled materials, don’t impact the environment, and that they are manufactured by worker-friendly companies. Fashion and architecture are offering radically different concepts in line with the demands of environmentalists and activists.
Science is beginning to exert a fundamental influence on life. New materials and additive technology provide designers with an unlimited potential for the creation of different shaped things with all sorts of textures and volumes. “Smart-tech” textiles make it possible to hike the esthetic as well as the functional properties of clothing up a notch. For example, a shirt can recharge a cell-phone, or let’s take a peep at a sports suit with integrated sensors and micro-computers that can offer tips on how its wearer can improve his or her athletic skills.
Universities involved in the 5-100 federal project are developing various hi-tech innovations. Cutting-edge technology helps boost production efficiency and streamlines various biological and social processes, including health control, treating major health disorders and developing artificial diamonds for preserving natural resources.
Cutting-edge technology: nano-fabrics, wearable tech and lab diamonds
People have been discussing interaction between fashion and technology at conferences and science exhibitions for quite a while now. The wearable tech phenomenon, namely, clothing incorporating bits of hi-tech (from mini-computers to LEDs) is a classic example of this new trend. Biometric T-shirts, ties blinking in time to our various mood swings plus dresses that change not only their shape but color too.
The impressive research potential of Russian universities allows them to develop various kinds of unique technology in this field.
ITMO University: chameleon jacket, dynamic light-emitting jewelry and a backpack with a turn signal
Experts Roman Antonov and Valeria Mikolyuk from Saint Petersburg State University of Information Technologies, Mechanics and Optics (ITMO University), one of Russia’s National Research Universities, and fashion designer Yekaterina Kuklina presented their inventions at the Fashion Futurum conference the organizers of which were mostly interested in blending state-of-the-art technology with haute couture.
Roman Antonov, a MA student from the Higher School of Light Design, has developed a chameleon jacket that duplicates the color of any object, touched by its owner. The jacket’s sleeves contain LEDs; when they illuminate any object, the reflected light hits special sensors detecting its color. The sensors send signals to tiny controllers setting the hue of LED ribbons sewn inside the jacket’s fabric.
Valeria Mikolyuk’s project deals with dynamic light-emitting jewelry, including a brooch on a levitating disk, a gem and a pendant. All this stuff was made using optical fibers.
“Our optical fibers help create unique glowing special effects, which may be variously perceived as the Milky Way galaxy or moving neurons,” Mikolyuk noted.
ITMO University researchers have also developed a backpack with a turn light incorporated into it intended for cyclists who usually have to outstretch their arm before changing lane or trying to make a right or left turn. The backpack has a screen with arrows pointing to the left and to the right as well as the stop sign. Developers later added a function making it possible to also display various images on the backpack.
New materials and the development of artificial intelligence actively influence the fashion industry, Konstantin Karchmarchik, an adviser with ITMO University’s Department of Innovations, noted. The Big Data and machine learning concepts help compile new databases using indirect information about customers. They merge various modern sciences, including cultural anthropology, evolutionary psychology together with the digital media.
Kazan Federal University: Colored diamonds
As we all so well know, brightly colored stones sometimes referred to as fantasy diamonds are valued ten times more than transparent ones on the diamond market. The cost of some shades rockets up to as much as $300,000 a carat.
Oleg Lopatin, Professor of the Department of Mineralogy and Lithology at Kazan Federal University and co-owner of the patent, explained the method of producing yellow or black fantasy diamonds. Together with his colleagues from the Kazan Physical-Technical Institute he was able to reproduce with the help of ion implantation the same process that occurs when a natural colored diamond is created.
The essence of the method is that ions are implanted into a sample on an ion-beam accelerator, which take on proper places in the crystal lattice. As a result, it is possible to obtain a green emerald from a colorless beryl (if bombarded with chromium ions) or a blue aquamarine (if iron ions are introduced). Corundum can be turned into a red ruby or even a blue sapphire.
It takes just five minutes to turn a colorless natural diamond into a yellow stone and less than an hour to turn it into a black one using the accelerator, while nature requires millions of years to do the same.
Nizhny Novgorod State University: Kibertrener EOS smart sports suit
According to researchers at the Lobachevsky Nizhny Novgorod State University, this scientific development presents a smart clothes concept and is based on an electromyographic optical system.
The Kibertrener EOS is capable of monitoring and correcting muscle activity during a training session. The suit has integrated mio-sensors that record the information about the load of the muscles in question and transfer the information onto augmented reality goggles.
The function of tactile stimulation of individual muscles corrects the movement of the muscles in accordance with a pre-recorded reference pattern. According to the developers, the use of such a suit significantly reduces the likelihood of any injuries.
Victory over old age and health problems
Along with the spread of ideals of environmentally friendly fashion and responsible consumption, the ability to control biological processes and to lead a healthy lifestyle is becoming an increasingly important thing for the consumer as well as something scientists are looking into.
MIPT: Combating aging
Scientists at MIPT have fundamentally approached this subject of how to create new anti-age technology. Some animals have bodies which do not actually age, for example, rodents like naked mole rats or mammals like bats. They do not possess any typical signs of aging. Even when they grow old they do not get ill more often.
Pyotr Fedichev, head of the Living Systems Laboratory at MIPT, believes that the means that could transit the human body into such a mode of operation will become one of the most promising options for combating aging and may appear in Russia in the near future.
“We hope in two or three years from now to try and produce a marketable solution that will significantly slow down the ageing process. Anti-age medication will help to eliminate changes related to becoming old, improve the quality of life of senior citizens plus minimize the likelihood of developing diseases,” explained Pyotr Fedichev.
St. Petersburg Polytechnic University: Affordable non-surgical method for treating varicose veins
Specialists at the Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University have developed technology for removing varicose veins using high intensity ultrasound.
According to the head of the university’s Medical Ultrasound Equipment Laboratory Alexander Berkovich, the developed approach favorably differs from the conventional methods of laser treatment that can lead to complications and are costly MRI treatment .
Tomsk Polytechnic University: Individual cardiac monitoring system
A group of researchers from Tomsk Polytechnic University is developing a personal arrhythmia tracker. The device is shaped like a cuff and is attached to a person’s hand to monitor the heart and to diagnose any irregularities.
According to project manager Arman Boyakhchyan, such a device will make it possible for an individual to independently monitor their own heart. They will only have to go to seek professional help when it comes to the analysis of the collected data from the monitoring device which is not expensive at just 7,000-8,000 rubles.
According to the developers, existing analogs cost as much as100, 000 rubles.
Living space of the future: “smart homes” and energy efficient cities
In the sphere of architecture and construction, the post-industrial period is characterized by the emergence of so-called green construction, which contributes an essential part to the sustainable development of cities – one of the goals of the United Nations’ Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Green construction focuses on optimizing not only the indicators of the living environment, but also the maintenance of the building throughout its whole cycle of life: from the design stage to the building’s dismantlement, which includes environmentally sound disposal of the waste.
To achieve energy efficiency, apart from using environmentally friendly materials, building designers pay special attention to implementing various automated management systems, such as, for instance, “smart grid” energy supply systems, and heat recovery ventilation systems.
HSE: generating electricity from moss
Experts from the Higher School of Economics National Research University’s Graduate School of Urbanism Yelena Mitrofanova and Ivan Mitrofanov have recently developed a modular system of façade greening which consists of wire mesh fitted ceramic containers planted with moss.
Under certain conditions, moss rhizoids can produce electricity, which means that entire facades can be used to produce electricity. One such module can generate a voltage of about 0.3 – 0.5 volts. By combining various types of connection, scientists can achieve different voltage-to-current ratios.
The system can be used to power a light bulb, a laptop and, in the near future, even a Segway, Ivan Mitrofanov says. The development is unique due to its environmental friendliness. One will be able to dispose of such a “green battery” anywhere, as it will pose no threat to the environment.
ITMO: Secure Smart Home
The Smart Home is the latest scientific development, a dream come true for many housewives. This software system brings comfort and resource-saving to a whole new level. It can identify various scenarios and respond accordingly.
The new system ensures the highest level of security for the Smart Home, said Sergei Zimnenko, Denis Nevmerzhitsky and Alexei Silayev, researchers from the Information Security Department at St. Petersburg National Research University ITMO.
Within the framework of the Secure Smart Home, researchers also created an unusual “smart” socket that allows its owners to measure electricity consumed by the plugged-in appliances. Once the electricity consumption reaches the network’s critical level, the owner will receive a message that some of the appliances must be unplugged.
SUSU: energy efficient lighting systems for cities and magnets for “green” electric motors
Researchers from the South Ural State University (SUSU) have recently developed an automated management information system that allows for the monitoring and controlling of lighting systems, as well as the consumption of thermal power, water and electricity.
At night, the system automatically reduces the brightness of street lights, even the standard sodium-vapor lamps, hence saving energy. It can be used to dim LED lamps as well. The new system allows up to a 40 percent saving on energy, said Dmitry Shnaider, Professor at the South Ural State University.
Andrei Sobolev, Assistant Professor at the SUSU Department of Computer Modeling and Nanotechnologies, is currently researching samarium magnets, which can withstand higher temperatures than their more common counterparts – neodymium magnets. These magnets are commonly used in the automotive industry, in direct current motors as well as home appliances.
“There is an ongoing trend for using electric motors and wind-powered generators – producing so-called green energy,” Andrei Sobolev said. “Temperatures inside these generators are rather high, which is why neodymium magnets do not work there, as they lose their properties. In cases like this, only samarium magnets can be used, as the samarium-cobalt alloys function perfectly in aggressive environments and under difficult operating conditions.”
The recent developments and projects of scientists from Russian universities show us that today, science and technology are a man’s best friend when it comes to not only improving industrial production, but also maintaining a healthy lifestyle and meeting one’s aesthetic needs.
The 5-100 Project, a program launched in 2013, the aim of which is to increase the scientific and research potential of Russian universities, is funding breakthrough scientific discoveries, and stimulates the development of fruitful cooperation between university scientists and industrial partners.