Transparent wood makes a splash in the car world

WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF

We are inventing new materials all the time, and we’re also re-inventing old ones …

 

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Recently a team of scientists from MIT managed to grow wood in a lab from nothing but cells, and while that might sound odd at first it actually makes sense because they took cells from plants and trees and then grew just the parts of the plants they wanted, such as the woody tissue, without having to grow the rest of the parts of the plant – thereby eliminating the need to use chemicals and herbicides, and also disrupting the agricultural and forestry industries in new ways, again. Just as lab grown meat and dairy products are disrupting farmers who raise animal for food.

 

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As automakers like BMW explore new 3D printed materials and technologies to minimize cars’ weight and emissions some companies, like Woodoo, a material science company based out of France who produce genetically engineered woods, are stepping up to the plate and coming up with new materials innovations which could soon be coming to a vehicle near you.

 

The new material in action

 

Woodoo is the brainchild of French architect Timothée Boitouzet, and their mission is to “blend nature with technology to design the materials of the future.” To this end, Woodoo recently unveiled their newest product – transparent wood. And if you ask me, if you made a desk out of this product and put a reactive display under it then you could make some radically different furniture. Imagine, for example, using the tech to build a keyboard into a desk or other sort of innovation. Go nuts – wood just got reinvented.

 

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Boitouzet got the inspiration for genetically engineered modified wood from Japanese construction culture.

“This material that we considered an old material, without innovation, was actually super smart. This got me excited about wood.” He also predicts that wood will be “the material of the 22nd century,” similarly to how steel was the go-to construction material of the 19th century.

Per the company’s website, Woodoo creates the augmented wood by extracting air and lignin from it, then reinforcing it with a bio-based polymer. This modification endows the material with strength and fire-resistance. Woodoo envisions multiple applications for the “augmented wood,” especially in the automotive and construction sectors. Automakers could integrate the wood into vehicle cockpits for a “tactile dashboard” like the ones in the pictures.

 

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Using the material would also help to reduce the vehicle’s overall weight while producing less pollution, and bring environmentally-conscious automakers, such as GM, one step closer to achieving their emissions-reduction goals.

According to Goldman Sachs’ recent virtual and augmented reality report, experts predict that this segment will grow by over 50 percent each year, eventually reaching $95 billion by 2025, and, unsurprisingly, Woodoo is already partnering with some companies to integrate the modified wood into aircraft and vehicle displays.

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