In the future, wearable sensors like those found in Fitbits and pedometers could be replaced by mushrooms.
In a recent study, researchers explored the use of fungi as a potential candidate to produce sustainable textiles that can be used as eco-friendly bio wearables. For example, the processors in tech wearables like Fitbits could be replaced by incorporating oyster mushroom mycelium.
Oyster mushroom mycelium, the fibrous mainframe tissues of fungi that colonize under the soil and from which mushrooms sprout, were able to perceive electrical signals in such a way as to replicate that part for sensors and processors, which are readable by a computer, reports GoodNewsNetwork.
“Smart wearables sense and process information from the user’s body and environment and report results of their analysis as electrical signals. Conventional electronic sensors and controllers are commonly, sometimes augmented by recent advances in soft electronics,” the researchers wrote.
“Organic electronics and bioelectronics, especially with living substrates, offer a great opportunity to incorporate parallel sensing and information processing capabilities of natural systems into future and emerging wearables. Nowadays fungi are emerging as a promising candidate to produce sustainable textiles to be used as eco-friendly biowearables.”
To assess the sensing potential of fungal wearables the team undertook laboratory experiments on the electrical response of a hemp fabric colonized by oyster fungi Pleurotus ostreatus to mechanical stretching and stimulation with attractants and repellents.
“We have shown that it is possible to discern a nature of stimuli from the fungi electrical responses. The results paved a way towards the future design of intelligent sensing patches to be used in reactive fungal wearables,” the team wrote.
The joint research venture was undertaken by the University of the West of England, Bristol, the U.K. (UWE Bristol) and collaborators from Mogu S.r.l., Italy, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Torino, Italy, and the Faculty of Computer Science, Multimedia and Telecommunications of the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) has assessed the sensing potential of fungal wearables.