“Squishy Robot Fingers” may not sound like an important technological breakthrough, but this new invention is revolutionizing the world of marine biology!

Harvard engineers have teamed up with Baruch College marine biologist David Gruber to pioneer a technology that will allow for scientists to explore the ocean’s natural wonders like never before.

Marine biology has had a long-standing problem, humans can’t breathe underwater. This makes it particularly difficult to conduct scientific research and exploration. Now, with remotely driven submarines we are able to explore the ocean’s depths like never before.

Much of the technology we have today for deep sea exploration was developed for oil companies, meaning that robots were equipped with “hands” that were not nearly delicate enough to work for biological study. The lovingly dubbed, “Squishy Robot Fingers” project sought to come up with a solution to this problem. Here are the results…

If you didn’t get enough of watching the squishy fingers in action here is one more video illustrating just how delicate and nimble this innovation can be…

It’s amazing what can happen when we ask people what they need from design!

I think I find this project captivating because of its all too obvious origins. It makes sense that design for oil exploration and marine biology are fundamentally different, and yet it has taken years for design and engineering to catch up to biologists.

Leaps forward happen when we pair creative designers/engineers/scientist with those who want innovation in their field. When we turn to the field of study opposite us, or even next to us and communicate with them, the potential for invention is endless!

Stay beautiful & keep laughing!



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  1. “Squishy Robot Fingers: A Breakthrough for Underwater Science.” YouTube. National Geographic, 20 Jan. 2016. Web. 18 Feb. 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UfEEdIobG3c>.
  2. “Soft Robotic Grippers For Deep-Sea Exploration.” Vimeo. Wyss Institute, 12 Jan. 2016. Web. 18 Feb. 2016. <https://vimeo.com/151568867>.

Liesl Ulrich-Verderber

COO Ever Widening Circles

Liesl is a camera-toting traveler, a global story seeker, and an aspiring—but more often floundering—yoga lover. She can be found on Instagram @Liesl.UV