Written by Emma Vetriano • Published 07th November 2011

The thing I love about working in the digital field is that you never quite know what’s coming next. In the name of cutting-edge innovation digital marketeers and disruptors leave no stone unturned in their quest for a new and original project.

This week, Digital Innovation is taking on the housing shortage among hermit crabs. It’s a serious problem for the environment – hermit crabs are born without a shell to live in and they need to find a properly fitting shell that has been discarded by another sea creature. It’s essential to the crab’s wellbeing that they find a shell which fits them properly and protects them from predators and environmental factors, but changes in the environment and ecological conditions have resulted in a lack of supply.

The trend for keeping hermit crabs as pets has also resulted in the harvesting of shells from the oceans, which is leaving wild hermit crabs out in the cold.  As a result, hermit crabs are making their homes in old bottles or cans and even discarded shotgun shells.
It’s a sad story right? Well, to a true digital innovator, a story like that represents a true opportunity to show just what the latest tech can do. The MakerBot community, who specialise in 3D printing – a phenomenon that is taking the digital world by storm – have launched a competition to design a suitable housing alternative.

All you have to do is create a design, submit it to MakerBot and they will print out a 3D version using their high-tech machines and then try it out in their ‘crabitat’.

The creators are calling the competition a new frontier in crowdsourced science. I call it social media at its most obscure and brilliant.

If you want to see some of the designs you can drop in on Project Shellter on Facebook, and you can also talk to them on Twitter using the #Shellter tag. Some of the designs are quite traditional, some a little more Shoreditch, but either way, it’s a heart-warming tale of crab meets cutting-edge technology and PHA Digital are working on their design immediately.


Cover image courtesy of warrenski, flickr.com