No, it’s not an optical illusion. These flat objects are actually shifting into full 3D objects. In new research that we saw on DesignTAXI, Harvard University researchers have created a whole new kind of transformer. Now a flat circle can become a 3D coffee table; no assembly required.
This technology, named Kiriform, allows flat objects to rotate into completely different designs. Kiriform is a new take on the deployable structure. Deployable structures are prevalent in our lives, think folding chairs. But this new conception of them relies on rotational movement. It harnesses “the mechanical instabilities in curved beams.” It also makes use of the structural phenomenon of “buckling.” While neither of those ideas sounds appealing, they are crucial here. And this new perspective has one big advantage, ease.
Anyone who has struggled to get a folding chair to open will sympathize. But these new Kiriform designs are easy to deploy. A press release from Harvard shares they are also “light, compact, inexpensive, easy to manufacture.” Additionally, this technology functions on the scale of millimeters to meters.
Ami Kuan Danoff, the study’s senior author, shares more about Kiriform. He notes that “These structures could be used as medical devices, optical devices like camera focusing mechanisms, deployable wheels, and turbines, furniture, or deployable shelters.”
That sounds like a ton of practical use. Two examples shared in the release include a deployable coffee table and lampshade. The coffee table springs to life from nothing. The lightness of it seems to hold great promise. And, obviously, its space-saving capabilities are immense. The lampshade, too, is incredibly practical. It rotates in a simple motion that opens and closes it. Thus, it allows its user to control the amount of light in their space.
All of this does not even begin to touch on the bigger picture implications this technology could have on the world. The full research paper is available on Advanced Functional Materials. Our overall takeaway: utilitarian, and it looks cool? Sign us up!