The future of Buildings - Self Repairing Houses
27 Sep 2022
Home ownership can be a drag. It's expensive and maintenance is time consuming. Today we rely on concrete and steel to build our world, but these materials are difficult to produce, transport, and assemble, and they eventually wear out or break down.
But what if you had a home that repaired itself? There'd be no need to replace driveway cracks, touch up exterior paint, or patch a hole in your wall. The idea may seem like science fiction, but self-repairing materials have been developed before. The potential benefits are huge: Self-repairing buildings could last for centuries with little or no human repair work. Entire buildings could be grown from scratch, using very little material and requiring virtually zero shipping costs.
DARPA, the arm of the U.S. Department of Defense that researches new technologies, launched a project last year to create new types of materials that have the structural abilities of traditional building materials but the attributes of living systems.The organization points to the advantages of biological materials such as coral, bark and even skin. DARPA's big idea is to replace those current building materials with new materials that can grow into predetermined shapes, repair themselves if damaged, and even adapt themselves to the environment. Its new mission to create them is called the Engineering Living Materials program.The vision of the ELM program is to grow materials on demand where they are needed. Imagine that instead of shipping finished materials, we could ship precursors and rapidly grow them on site using local resources. Entire buildings could be grown from scratch, using very little material and requiring virtually zero shipping costs.
For instance, DARPA proposes roof tiles that can passively control airflow, keeping your house cool in the summer and warm in the winter, all without you adjusting the thermostat. DARPA is working with one such company, Ecovative, to make physical moulds for structures. They envision reprogramming biology so that seeds could grow on their own into a given shape, such as a 2 x 4 piece of lumber. It's still the early days for these technologies, and it's unclear when the average person would get to enjoy these benefits. The wait could last for decades. But some innovators -- such as Sidewalk Labs, the urban innovation lab of Google's parent company, Alphabet -- are working toward this goal.This is all highly speculative, of course, and any advances in this area are not likely to hit the market for many years. But given DARPA's reputation for turning science fiction into reality, it may only be a matter of time before self-healing houses put the repairman out of business.
Highlights of #Issue 12 of FinTalk are:
- Home grown StartUp Stories: Optimite Technologies Private Limited
- Interview | Must find UPI monetisation path, says BoB CDO Akhil Handa
- Global Fintech Fest: Founders a starry reception & regulators talk business
- Next wave of Fintech with new age tools - CEA of India
- Fintech platform Mintoak enabling banks to digitally empower merchant ecosystem
Chief Digital Officer
Bank of Baroda
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