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Innovation Design Engineering (MA/MSC)

April Min Cai

April is an interdisciplinary designer with a focus on product and user experience design. Her passion for the experimental design approach has led her through many design projects ranging from sustainable material innovation to inclusive digital service. Her experiences working with cross-disciplinary teams have been broadening her horizon in design and exposing her to diverse fields of knowledge. Prior to Royal College of Art and Imperial College London, April graduated from the University of Liverpool with a First-class Industrial Design BEng degree, where she developed a diverse portfolio of product design work and engineering knowledge.

This year, she's working on the bio-integrated material innovation with thermogenesis plants. This project explored sustainable biosensing and actuating system to replace the current electric-mechanical solution.

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PLANERGY is bio-integrated material innovation, which aims at harnessing biological energy, senor, and actuator from the natural world. Often packaged under the term ‘sustainability', we are asked to rethink what we buy, how we travel to collectively reduce the environmental impact. But think again, what is the ‘greenest’ way of living? Shouldn’t we have sustainability fundamentally built-in when designing and making things for our daily lives? This project rethinks the relationship between humans and nature, as well as the relationship between technology and the nature system.  

In the Context of Temperture Responsive Textile

Self-sustained material with responsiveness to the environment.

By introducing the living thermogenesis organism into the shape memory material, we can create the hybrid material that responds to the environment temperature. The composite material can then sense the surrounding temperature and computes back with designed movements. 

When the temperature drops, the low temperature will trigger the thermogenesis tissue to produce a certain amount of heat to deform the material, when the temperature rises, the heat production will wind down thus the material will return to its original shape. 

When the temperature drops, the material senses the temperature change and starts generating a certain amount of heat corresponding to the ambient temperature, and starts morphing to the designed shape.