The MIT MediaLab is at it again, and this time, they’ve designed a snake-like robot that could potentially replace, well, everything. In its resting position, the so-called “LineFORM” looks like a (you guessed it) line, but dozens of small servo motors, controlled by an Arduino Mega, allow it to quickly snap into various arrangements. Essentially, MIT has created the future of slap bracelets.
The project is outlined in a paper from the Tangible Media Group, who suggests future incarnations of the device could make communication simpler by replacing most of the hardware we use today. Need LineFORM to be a keyboard? A phone? A body constraint to help with an injury? A cable that “tells” you when its done transferring your files?
It can do zat.
LineFORM relies on shape-detection software to keep track of the position of its segments. At any given time, it “knows” where each motor is in relation to the rest, ensuring the collective movement is both fluid and accurate. Of course, we’re still a ways off from seeing robo-snake phones, but the initial results are promising.
“There are a number of technical limitations of our current LineFORM prototypes as well as limitations of actuated curve interfaces [like this] in general,” writes the team. For example, the actual length of the device may hinder its applications down the road. The next step will be to play with various physical properties, like stretchiness and thickness. “Our hope is that this work will motivate others to further explore the space.”
For more images of the LineFORM in action, head to the Tangible Media Group website.