Auto-origami

Paul Raven @ 30-06-2010

Chalk another one up for the MIT ideas factory: programmable matter‘ comprises sheets of composite material “edged by foil actuators – thin, solid-state motors – that contract or expand when they receive an electric current from flexible electronic circuits embedded in the sheets. After they achieve their preprogrammed shape, the sheets are held in place by tiny magnets on the edges of the fold joints.” [via SlashDot]

In other words, it’s automatic origami. Observe!

Clever stuff. I wonder how far up you could scale this phenomenon? It could make Ikea furniture much less of a headache to assemble, for a start… and Cisco’s city-in-a-box could really be supplied in a box.


Cube a breakthrough in smart matter

Tom James @ 07-06-2009

darpa_origami2DARPA are still at it busily inventing the all the science-fictional goodness we expect and deserve. Now they’re going in for programmable matter, of a similar flavour to that found in Fire upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge, Accelerando by Charles Stross, and Dune: The Butlerian Jihad by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. The goal of the project is to create matter that can “self-assemble or alter their shape, perform a function and then disassemble themselves.”:

One day, that could lead to “morphing aircraft and ground vehicles, uniforms that can alter themselves to be comfortable in any climate, and ’soft’ robots that flow like mercury through small openings to enter caves and bunker complexes.” A soldier could even reach into a can of unformed goop, and order up a custom-made tool or a “universal spare part.”

One team from Harvard is working on a kind of “generalized Rubik’s Cube” that can fold into all kinds of shapes. Another is trying to order large strands of synthetic DNA to bind together in a “molecular Velcro.” An MIT group is building “’self-folding origami’ machines that use specialized sheets of material with built-in actuators and data. These machines use cutting-edge mathematical theorems to fold themselves into virtually any three-dimensional object.

Very powerful and potentially gamechanging. Presumably if and when these become available to the general public they will have various restrictions built into them that will promptly be overcome and hacked origami-tools will become the ultimate criminal penknife.

On a more cheerful not this have wonderful applications in art and performance.

[from Danger Room]


Origami reentry vehicle

Tobias Buckell @ 23-01-2008

PaperplaneI’m intrigued by this report that members of the Japan Origami Airplane Association are working to develop a 3 inch paperplane that they’re hoping will handle reentry and land somewhere on Earth after being launched from the space station.

That would make for the longest paperplane flight ever!