First came self-lacing trainers – now it's auto-fitting surgical gowns

Remember Marty McFly's self-lacing Nikes from Back to the Future 2 - the ones that, when slipped onto his feet, automatically tightened to the correct size without effort? Well, they were made a reality in 2016.

So what's next? Well the answer, improbably enough, is "surgical gowns". Japanese researchers have built a surgical gown that healthcare workers can put out without any help from anyone else that auto-adjusts to the right size. It's called a "Selfgown".

Conventional surgical gowns have strings or a belt that have to be done up around the neck and waist to keep them in place. However, doing that yourself introduces the risk of contamination, so an assistant has to do it.

The Selfgown comes with a special spring along the neckline instead of strings, while sticky tape and a special perforation is used for the waist belt. The result is a self-donning, self-adjusting gown that anyone can put on or take off without risking contamination. 

Zero risk

In fact, there's almost zero risk of infectious substances splashing from the gloves, because the wearer can take off the gown while wrapping the gloves inside-out at the same time. That's different from a conventional gown, where the gloves must be removed first.

That's big news in crisis situations - the use of a gown that can be put on quickly and safely is more important than ever in a world at increasing risk of pandemics like Ebola and Zika. 

"We finally established a self-donning, self-adjusting system after 18 months of research, making 41 prototypes while conducting 17 animal experiments, 5 clinical trials and incorporating evaluations from over 100 surgeons in Japan and overseas", said Kiyokazu Nakajima, who led the research team that invented the Selfgown.

"We were able to develop this groundbreaking gown through advice from infection control and critical care specialists. We wish to widely promote our achievement.” 

Duncan Geere
Duncan Geere is TechRadar's science writer. Every day he finds the most interesting science news and explains why you should care. You can read more of his stories here, and you can find him on Twitter under the handle @duncangeere.