Wednesday, 10 Jun, 2009 Science

Shape Changing Programmable Matter Might Become Reality Soon


An ultra high-tech project is currently developed by scientists backed by Darpa . According to Henry Kenyon, who works for the Signal magazine , researchers attempt to create "programmable matter", which will have the ability to "self-assemble or alter their shape, perform a function and then disassemble themselves."

If everything goes according to the plan, we might soon end up with morphing aircrafts and cars, uniforms that could change their shape to be comfy during any time of the year, and even "liquid" robots like the one seen in Terminator 2, flowing like mercury though different openings.

A team of scientists at Harvard University is currently working on what resembles of Rubik's Cube that can easily change its shape. Researchers at MIT are making "self-folding origami" devices 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."

Noah Shachtman at writes that currently the Programmable Matter project is in its second phase and is to be completed next spring. By the end of the project, scientists will have to "assemble four or five 3D solids of a specific size and shape from a set of building blocks."

The chip-making giant Intel is looking far beyond in the field, having made some researches on programmable matter on its own. Intel's website says that one day their invention will be able to "mimic the shape and appearance of a person or object being imaged in real time, and as the originals moved, so would their replicas". It also says that the 3D models would be actual physical entities so a person could feel them and interact with them.

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