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Programmable Origami

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the man-who-folded-himself dept.

Science 84

sciencehabit sends this snip from Science Magazine, with included video: "Researchers have created flat sheets of composite material that can fold themselves into toy boats, tents, and even paper airplanes. Based on the ancient art of origami, the sheets are 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. Researchers say the technology could be scaled up to create ultra-portable tripods or even cups that automatically adjust to the size of liquid being poured into them."

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...or Devices Which Unfold in Space! (2)

bezenek (958723) | more than 4 years ago | (#32727118)

Cool stuff!

-Todd

Re:...or Devices Which Unfold in Space! (1, Insightful)

bezenek (958723) | more than 4 years ago | (#32727124)

Woops. I should have said "unfold/refold" in space...

Still cool stuff!

-Todd

Re:...or Devices Which Unfold in Space! (2, Funny)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 4 years ago | (#32727138)

Congrats! You just got First and Second Post!

Re:...or Devices Which Unfold in Space! (3, Funny)

pinkushun (1467193) | more than 4 years ago | (#32727156)

Sure is! But I don't see any practical uses for this, maybe it will lead to bigger things, like Transformers or Skynet!

Re:...or Devices Which Unfold in Space! (3, Informative)

Superdarion (1286310) | more than 4 years ago | (#32727256)

Well, sounds an awful lot like our muscles. Good enough for you?

Re:...or Devices Which Unfold in Space! (1)

sortius_nod (1080919) | more than 4 years ago | (#32727340)

I was discussing this the other day with my partner that we're actually starting to understand more about the body (mind in particular) from creating robotic systems. Object recognition and the like seems to be having a back flow effect into our understanding of how we work. No doubt this can lead to prosthesis or just purely be used as a way of gaining a deeper understanding of muscle tissue.

One thing though, where's the bloody crane [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:...or Devices Which Unfold in Space! (2, Funny)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#32728578)

A self-assembling, self-flapping crane?

Nature already did it!

how about dynamic lightweight wings (1)

Michael Kristopeit (1751814) | more than 4 years ago | (#32727176)

^subject

Subject contents (1)

vegiVamp (518171) | more than 4 years ago | (#32728468)

^annoying habit

Re:Subject contents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32729306)

It made sense back in the day when nobody had broadband Internet at home (warning: off-topic history lesson ahead). To save time, various fora software would display one post at a time with a tree of post subjects in the discussion thread. It was a neat hack to put a short reply in the subject and note that it was (SO), (NT) or whatever else you'd use to note your intentions. Nowadays, we tend to get the entire discussion thread displayed in one page, which obviates the need for that hack and sometimes even subject lines entirely. So yeah, obsolete hack is obsolete and it needs to go away.

Re:Subject contents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32734306)

the hack of having subjects, or using them?

MMMMMMM! Origami! (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32727262)

As an origamist with an interest in nanotechnology, I could see a few EXTREMELY useful applications for this. I heard it said once that scientists were testing the idea that nano-switches for computer chips could be folded from nano-sheets of metal. Imagine a computer with hardware that literally reforms its self to accomplish new tasks on the fly. Given, programming it would be about the most difficult thing to accomplish, but it would still be a fun toy to play with...

Re:MMMMMMM! Origami! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32727268)

literal protein folding @home

Re:MMMMMMM! Origami! (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32727580)

Am I the only one who wanted to line all of his clothes with these things and program them to fold themselves when they're out of the wash?

Wait - is circuitry any better at withstanding water and detergent yet?

Re:MMMMMMM! Origami! (1)

kramulous (977841) | more than 4 years ago | (#32727706)

I don't really care about folding themselves. More that I want them to wash, dry and put themselves away.

Re:MMMMMMM! Origami! (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 4 years ago | (#32728774)

Bonus points if they can do this while you're still wearing them. And brush your teeth.

Re:MMMMMMM! Origami! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32747038)

that is called a wife... dumbass

Re:MMMMMMM! Origami! (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 4 years ago | (#32728734)

bah, make the clothes so that they can expand or contract on command, and you got the beginning of a certain set of sneakers.

Re:MMMMMMM! Origami! (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#32727744)

What would the multitasking performance be like?

Re:MMMMMMM! Origami! (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 4 years ago | (#32727762)

As an origamist with an interest in nanotechnology ...

Allow me to ask a possibly related, but less interesting question from those who are so wise in the ways of science:

How are corrugated boxes designed?

It's never ceased to amaze me how someone can create a box that maximises the number of items that can be packed, minimises wasted space (and, presumably, material used in construction), meets strength tests, and then conforms to dimensions (and/or weight) dictated by shipping requirements.

I'm trying to picture something other than a bunch of guys in labcoats standing around trying to pile clay replicas of the items to be packed, intermittently shouting "That won't work -- let me try!".

Re:MMMMMMM! Origami! (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 4 years ago | (#32728804)

I'm trying to picture something other than a bunch of guys in labcoats standing around trying to pile clay replicas of the items to be packed

I hope the Tetris music is playing in the background?

Re:MMMMMMM! Origami! (1)

2themax (681779) | more than 4 years ago | (#32729484)

Imagine a computer with hardware that literally reforms its self to accomplish new tasks on the fly.

Reconfigurable computing is already possible with FPGAs [wikipedia.org] . You can't go and buy commodity x86-type hardware such as CPUs or GPUs just yet, but "soon" (sooner than practical nuclear fusion, later than DNF) it will happen.

Highly Impractical examples... (5, Insightful)

Ssherby (1429933) | more than 4 years ago | (#32727276)

OMG!

A self adjusting drinking cup!

If I had a nickel for every time I had a cup that was too big or too small for what I wanted to pour into it, I could fund the research on this project myself. Oh, and an ultra-light weight tripod!

This will be awesome! Surely the greatest thing since sliced bread!

Seriously though, couldn't they dream up some future use examples that were a bit more practical? Is there really a demand for light weight tripods and self adjusting drinking cups?

Re:Highly Impractical examples... (1)

M8e (1008767) | more than 4 years ago | (#32727410)

"cups that automatically adjust to the size of liquid being poured into them." is just stupid.

It have to automatically adjust to the size of your cupholder and the liquids temperature (automatically folds out a handle if the liquid is to hot)

Re:Highly Impractical examples... (2, Funny)

NoZart (961808) | more than 4 years ago | (#32727736)

I am going with a cup that adjusts with the weight of the breast in it.

Re:Highly Impractical examples... (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#32727748)

Or a pair of underpants which can impress on demand...

Re:Highly Impractical examples... (1)

jijitus (1478465) | more than 4 years ago | (#32727416)

What about an umbrella you can carry in your wallet, with your credit cards? (Phillip K. Dick's "Idoru"). A foldable QWERTY keyboard for your smartphone, that can unfold into small and full size? What if you can do the same with the screen?

Cars which change shape according to speed and wind could be much cheaper than today, too.

I want my Batman-like cape/delta wing for Christmas!

Re:Highly Impractical examples... (2, Funny)

jez9999 (618189) | more than 4 years ago | (#32727604)

A self-adjusting drinking cup would be ideal for BP though, they could just put one over the leaking well and watch it expand.

Cups & tripods... (1)

denzacar (181829) | more than 4 years ago | (#32727738)

A self adjusting drinking cup

Maybe not important to you, but it may be interesting to someone like McDonald's.
Probably not at the current prices though, but 30-50 years down the road...

Oh, and an ultra-light weight tripod!

Maybe not important to you, but it may be interesting to someone like **insert major camera/mobile phone manufacturer here**.

Actually, those are pretty good examples - if you are looking for more immediate funding AND you don't feel like lying through your teeth about possible capabilities of your invention.
Although, they WILL probably have to do more lying before they sell this one.
And get a more colorful video. Preferably with some scantly clad human females in it.

Re:Highly Impractical examples... (2, Funny)

Yoozer (1055188) | more than 4 years ago | (#32727770)

It's typical for engineers: some people say the glass of water is half full, others say it's half empty - and engineers call it twice as big as it should've been.

Re:Highly Impractical examples... (2, Funny)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 4 years ago | (#32727838)

Pff. Wake me up when there are plans to make the cup a lot more spherical.

Regards,

A. Mathematician

Re:Highly Impractical examples... (2, Funny)

Yoozer (1055188) | more than 4 years ago | (#32728194)

But then you wouldn't be able to hold it; it'd slip right through your fingers.

Regards,

A. Physicist

Re:Highly Impractical examples... (2, Funny)

stifler9999 (1184283) | more than 4 years ago | (#32728544)

We could put a handle on the side. And a tripod at the bottom. Regards, An Engineer.

Re:Highly Impractical examples... (4, Funny)

somersault (912633) | more than 4 years ago | (#32728828)

Tried that on your mom, it worked well!

Regards,

A. Douchebag

Re:Highly Impractical examples... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32728850)

No, you couldn't.
Regards,

A. Designer

Re:Highly Impractical examples... (1)

ajlitt (19055) | more than 4 years ago | (#32730650)

A big part of our target demo likes water. Dolphins like water. Let's cover the side in dolphin graphics.

Regards,
A. Marketroid

Re:Highly Impractical examples... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32731384)

Screw you guys, I'm gonna go buy me an iPad.

Regards,
A. Consumer

Re:Highly Impractical examples... (1)

cynyr (703126) | more than 4 years ago | (#32738896)

it being spherical has some advantages, namely less surface area to loose heat though. If it keeps my coffee hot 3 minutes longer i say it's a win!.

A Engineer

Re:Highly Impractical examples... (1)

SiriusStarr (1196697) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733630)

Just avoid holding it in that way.

Regards,
S. Jobs

Re:Highly Impractical examples... (1)

Dekker3D (989692) | more than 4 years ago | (#32730010)

You could try a kettle.
Regards,

A. Pragmatist

Re:Highly Impractical examples... (1)

Arimus (198136) | more than 4 years ago | (#32728534)

I know a lot of photographers or survey engineers for whom a lightweight compact tripod would be a godsend...

Just because you have no practical use for it doesn't mean there isn't one.

Re:Highly Impractical examples... (1)

notknown86 (1190215) | more than 4 years ago | (#32728542)

Think like a truck driver, dude. A "self-adjustable drinking cup" would make those long haul trips much faster, when the "tripod" needs an empty. Third leg 'ahoy!

Re:Highly Impractical examples... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32728698)

"Seriously though, couldn't they dream up some future use examples that were a bit more practical? Is there really a demand for light weight tripods and self adjusting drinking cups?"

How about a flying car that folds up into a briefcase?

Re:Highly Impractical examples... (1)

Dekker3D (989692) | more than 4 years ago | (#32730034)

How about a flying armor that folds up into a briefcase?

(Yes I've been watching Iron Man)

Re:Highly Impractical examples... (1)

dannys42 (61725) | more than 4 years ago | (#32776232)

How about a flying self-driving car that folds up into a MacBook Air.

Re:Highly Impractical examples... (1)

Darkman, Walkin Dude (707389) | more than 4 years ago | (#32729386)

I'd be interested to see if they could translate the movement into mobility, using it to move around. A few more iterations and you might conceivably have flapping bird wings that work, or something that could inch its way under a door before reforming into something else. I'd say this is almost more interesting than the fact of forming multiple shapes.

Re:Highly Impractical examples... (1)

anexkahn (935249) | more than 4 years ago | (#32731636)

I usually just leave the cup half empty...

Re:Highly Impractical examples... (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 4 years ago | (#32734504)

I'd settle for self-adjusting cup holders. I'm on my 3rd car, and I've never found a cup that fits into any of the cup holders.

another potential application for this tech... (1)

aussieslovethecock (1840034) | more than 4 years ago | (#32727298)

Now, my knowledge of physics may be a little bit fuzzy, (and of general relativity, even more-so) but using the principals laid out by these guys, doesn't it make it slightly easier even theoretically to take a large penis (preferably black in color) and shove it right up your ass?

Re:another potential application for this tech... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32727896)

Now, my knowledge of physics may be a little bit fuzzy, (and of general relativity, even more-so) but using the principals laid out by these guys, doesn't it make it slightly easier even theoretically to take a large penis (preferably black in color) and shove it right up your ass?

So, you're saying, fold your cock up, shove it in, and then unfold it?

Over and over instead of "the old in-out"?

Don't stop there! (1)

Okonomiyaki (662220) | more than 4 years ago | (#32727398)

I'm waiting for programmable okonomiyaki.

Re:Don't stop there! (1)

nacturation (646836) | more than 4 years ago | (#32727790)

I'm waiting for programmable okonomiyaki.

You wish to program yourself?

Re:Don't stop there! (1)

Dekker3D (989692) | more than 4 years ago | (#32730064)

Be afraid of the infinite loops. "Post Humously" indeed.

Someone funded this? (1)

spazdor (902907) | more than 4 years ago | (#32727462)

What a silly-looking "invention". The actuators they've developed may indeed be useful but this video makes it hard to imagine a single real application. Dynamically-resizing folding cups? I can't wait!

Re:Someone funded this? (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 4 years ago | (#32728048)

What a silly-looking "invention". The actuators they've developed may indeed be useful but this video makes it hard to imagine a single real application. Dynamically-resizing folding cups? I can't wait!

The need for this was anticipated and articulated a couple decades ago by George Carlin:

Some people say the glass is half empty, some people say the glass is half full. I say the glass is too big!

Programming language (3, Funny)

LambdaWolf (1561517) | more than 4 years ago | (#32727508)

But what language do you use to program a blank sheet of paper?

I can guess... [dur.ac.uk]

Re:Programming language (1)

kramulous (977841) | more than 4 years ago | (#32727728)

Male's language?

Re:Programming language (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32728508)

origami#, of course

Excellent.. (1)

Tei (520358) | more than 4 years ago | (#32727524)

This is another step to the ultimate device for freeloaders: the universal compiler machine.
Probably a "universal" compiler machine is imposible (other than atom-by-atom build?), but especialized machines are probabbly possible, and heres one. The best use for this type of technology is generate a colony of self-replicant robots near the dark side of the moon. I doubt it will be possible to build all the elements on the moon itself, but the more you can build there (and I can see how a origami structure can be usefull) the less you need to send using very expensive rockets.

Re:Excellent.. (1)

daveime (1253762) | more than 4 years ago | (#32727740)

I thought weight was a bigger constraint than size when it came to space flights ?

In which case, don't matter how small it's folded up, it'll still weigh the same.

Re:Excellent.. (1)

Tei (520358) | more than 4 years ago | (#32727814)

if you made the base material on the moon, and only moves the esential components, you have to move less weight.

PO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32727714)

Nice topin, "Researchers have reshaped the landscape of programmable matter by devising self-folding sheets that rely on the ancient art of origami". Thanks..

By
Directory [fourpxdirectory.com]

Tripods, cups (1)

Trogre (513942) | more than 4 years ago | (#32727768)

Hardly. How about...

shape-changing robots that can fit into nearly any space and will kill us all!

Remote Construction (3, Interesting)

CaptainOfSpray (1229754) | more than 4 years ago | (#32727788)

This will be how we make the first self-erecting buildings of our Moon base , with no astronauts present until they are ready for occupation. Also it will be how our explorers on Mars carry their emergency shelters, for when they have to wait to be rescued after digging their rover into a sandpit.

Re:Remote Construction (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 4 years ago | (#32728658)

I'd think a balloon would be a lot more affective and less failure prone.

Re:Remote Construction (1)

CaptainOfSpray (1229754) | more than 4 years ago | (#32728786)

Unfortunately, the surface of the Moon (and I guess probably Mars, too) is subject to a continuous bombardment of infalling space debris and ejecta from other impacts. So a balloon is going to get punctured.[obligatory secondary debate "but you can make it strong enough", "that makes it too heavy to transport from Earth", blah blah]

Re:Remote Construction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32728976)

No, you pump up your balloon, then cover it with concrete made from material available at the site, and let the concrete harden.

No, I did not check whether Mars material can be used in concrete-like manner.

Re:Remote Construction (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#32729310)

NASA had a Lunar building contest, the winner revealed that the lunar soil can be piled and melted with sunlight, and thus made into walls etc. The interior of such a structure will have an inflatable installed into it. This problem has already been solved, and in a much more clever fashion even than this.

Re:Remote Construction (1)

justthisdude (779510) | more than 4 years ago | (#32730280)

You don't have to look so far ahead: you can use it to unfold solar panels on satellites. It would make it much easier to deploy (and change the angle of) large solar panels on small simple satellites. they have to be launched in a very compact state and deploy (obviously) without help.

Dilbert comic in the making (1)

RenHoek (101570) | more than 4 years ago | (#32728050)

Drinking cups that are being held together with magnets? Oh ho ho! I smell an office prank with a degausser!

A tad optimistic (1)

raovq (999171) | more than 4 years ago | (#32728234)

Something about the mindless optimism of the scientists always makes me smile. They produce a sheet the size of a playing card that can slowly fold itself into a few predetermined shapes. While this is impressive, the technology is clearly miles away from tripods and auto-adjusting cups. This is a symptom of a research framework that only focuses on marketable products, and doesn't give a stuff about the actual progress being made.

Batman (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32728322)

I've known about this technique for a long time. For pete's sake it was in the movie Batman Begins. Batman has a cape made of this stuff.

Re:Batman (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 4 years ago | (#32728910)

That cape isn't dynamically reprogrammable.

Or stop motion animation! (1)

Snaller (147050) | more than 4 years ago | (#32728444)

Do it with a driving semi turning into a 50 meter tall robot - then we'll talk!

Honestly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32728638)

Officer, I swear, it was only one beer.

Finally, some inventions from the future (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32728700)

"Boy Grandma, you sure can hydrate a pizza!!"

Sex Toys (1)

handy_vandal (606174) | more than 4 years ago | (#32729466)

Admit it -- you're already thinking about how you can use this technology in bed.

Ob (2, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#32729520)

Well it sounds feasible on paper.

Aliens in Roswell already did it (1)

trashbird1240 (1149197) | more than 4 years ago | (#32729850)

Seriously, the US Air Force has had this technology since 1946 and now we're just catching up?

Wow! (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 4 years ago | (#32730628)

Researchers say the technology could be scaled up to create ultra-portable tripods or even cups that automatically adjust to the size of liquid being poured into them."

No longer will I suffer the burden of having to carry a stone age, brain teasing carbon fiber tripod, or have to navigate the treacherous gymnastic maze of not overflowing a cup at the soda fountain!

Way to think BIG, summary!

What ever happened to memory metals? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32732468)

Wouldn't be cooler if this thing were made out of memory metal instead of relying on seams and actuator motors??

(whatever happend to memory metals?! You'd think that with the big advances in nano-scale tech, we could have some very cool advances in memory metal abilities and applications)

Cool! (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 4 years ago | (#32732972)

"This was awarded first prize in the Increase Lazy Children Toy Show.

Second prize went to Shrinky-Dinks that came with software and a little robot. The child surfs their site for a color scheme they liked from among dozens others have uploaded, then pushes a button, wherein the robot colors it, sticks it in the oven and shrinks it, then takes it out and heaves it into the bottom of the toy box for the child."

T-1000 (1)

InsertCleverUsername (950130) | more than 4 years ago | (#32737378)

IBM's Watson and now this... Skynet and a liquid metal T-1000 can't be far away.

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