About 70% of Earth’s surface is covered in water. God made humans to live on land. He made fish to live in water. Amphibians do a bit of both. What if, some scientists and designers wondered, humans could don gills and draw oxygen from water?
Jun Kamei is a material scientist graduate of London’s Royal College of Art, a research university for art and design students. Kamei combined his interests in science and fashion for the creation he calls Amphibio.
Amphibio is a grooved, wearable, collar-type apparatus. It comes with an essential respiratory mask as part of the complete ensemble. Both pieces are created using a 3-D printer. The collar operates as a gill. It can extract oxygen from water and deliver it to the wearer through the mask. Though the prototype does not produce enough oxygen to sustain a human under water, Kamei believes he’s on the right track. Eventually, he thinks technology will catch up to allow humans to explore the deeps without the burden of an oxygen tank.
Kamei created Amphibio from a water-resistant material. Microscopic pores let oxygen and carbon dioxide gases pass through it. The gill system is hollow, providing a reservoir for the oxygen extracted from water. According to Kamei’s website, the design was inspired by water-diving insects. These creatures hold a small amount of oxygen around their exoskeletons when they submerge. They use that oxygen while under water. Amphibio holds a small reserve of oxygen inside. The gill replenishes it as it is used up. But Amphibio’s volume is just a drop in the bucket for the amount of oxygen actually needed.
Amphibio’s creator dreams of its further development. His next goal is to create a gill garment with an adequate oxygen capacity for a person. Then Kamei plans to test it with human divers. But is he in over his head? With current technology, that garment would need to be at least 32 square meters to provide enough breathable oxygen for a person underwater. That’s about 344 square feet of molded fabric the human would need to wear—something the size of a large living room. The visual makes an oxygen tank seem a lot less cumbersome—maybe even downright practical!
It’s normal to be skeptical about far-fetched ideas. But even so, don’t automatically pour cold water on someone’s brainstorms. Most inventions begin with an idea that seemed unlikely at some point. God gave people tremendous creativity and the perseverance to try, fail, and try again. That’s how progress happens!