Programmable Origami

Researchers at MIT have come up with this slick demo of, what they call,  programmable matter. This flat sheet covered in tiny foil actuators can be programmed to fold into specific shapes. Shown in the video above is a boat and an airplane.  Using the concepts set down by origami through the years, they can divide the sheet into triangles in specific arrangements to make certain shapes possible. This one is fairly simple, but judging by some of the insane origami we’ve seen around, this could get pretty cool.

[via slashdot]

Comments

  1. osgeld says:

    both practical and useful

    (poke poke)

  2. Bob says:

    You can probably use the same concept but with a chemical or physical effect as the actuator instead of electricity, like using mini sponges. Then when your paper drops into the water, it changes into a boat. Equally useful to this project at 95% less wasted time.

  3. DeFex says:

    I hope to see these “foil actuators” for sale at sparkfun or somewhere, next week please :)

  4. osgeld says:

    get some muscle wire, and tinfoil

    bingo

  5. Richard says:

    I think I just heard Optimus Prime say “Autobots Roll Out!” in the background…

  6. I like it!
    would love to see a desktop art piece that folds into random shapes all day long.

  7. Squintz says:

    It looked like they were using small magnets to hold the foil in place once it got passed a certain point.

  8. The Yikes says:

    Wicked!! there are a tonne of possible uses for this!

  9. chrelad says:

    How awesome is this :D

  10. anon says:

    them aliens are gonna be pissed we stole their idea…

  11. Concino says:

    It looks like without the magnets it wouldn’t hold the shape, and it doesn’t go back being flat again unless someone physically flatten it. Kinda useless in its current form.

  12. Rob says:

    @Concino

    Everything looks useless in it’s first iteration. You have to look at it’s potential, not it’s current state.

  13. zool says:

    hmm concino maybe right, but they could use electromagnets and reverse the polarity

    cooler than a motorcycle/sidecar

  14. Mantech1 says:

    Indeed, just look at the first transistor. An ugly device, who could have imagined all the potential uses for it.

    But, is it just my browser or is that video in Black and White?

  15. Jordan says:

    So, if they took out the mini magnets and shrank everything a bit more (I’m thinking future versions of this, not the immediate next version), its possibilities could be more flexible (pun intended). For example, a small blob of the actuators could theoretically be created, and the object could take on many forms instead of being restricted to specific fold lines, right?

    – Jordan

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