Breathing Walls with Shape Memory Alloy Wire

When you need something quietly bending or moving, don’t underestimate SMA’s (or Shape Memory Alloys). The Living Glass project by architects [David Benjamin] and [Soo-in Yang] catalogs an experiment in building interactive, flexible, “breathing”, walls out of SMA wire and microcontrollers. Although they use Basic Stamps, the project could easily be extended to more cost-effective microcontrollers for large surfaces. The project is well documented with videos (AVI) of each prototyping step and even includes the ideas that were ultimately scrapped. Even if you don’t build a wall of interactive gills, this project should give you plenty of ideas for uses of SMA wire embedded in semi-flexible materials.


  1. Mike Witt says:

    For anyone that wants some Flexinol(TM) Wire (that’s the SMA wire) you can find it at Jameco.

    I had seen it in their catalog before, and now I might just have to get some.

  2. cbm5 says:

    yeah…i’ve been thinking of using some shape memory wire to animate some tivo antennae or something. should be pretty simple, four pieces inside a flexible tube.

  3. Rager says:

    That’s the stiquito! I remember that thing as a kid. Nitinol or whatnot wires on a flexible elastic frame; ingenious.

  4. lewis says:

    Interesting, but is this a solution looking for a problem?

  5. Morden says:

    I believe that it is intentioned as an air circulation method. Or at least that is what I assumed after reading their article and test photos.

    I doubt it is chemically and biologically secure when closed but I can see green houses and energy efficient singular level homes using it.

    But it just damn looks cool also.

  6. “3. Interesting, but is this a solution looking for a problem?”

    Have you never met an architect before?

  7. strider_mt2k says:

    Uh I believe the breathing walls refer to a special effect for say, a haunted house or room to freak out those on acid.

  8. cat_herder says:

    I’d had a twisted idea utilizing this very same wire, micro controller and an interactive pron program. Unfortunately, I thought about the effects of a shorted controller stage and the subsequent effects of excess current through the wire. Needless to say, the idea was scrapped…

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