Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Claytronics or Programmable Matter....

Tiny barely visible computers that can rearrange themselves into any shape and color through their own internal network??
The world as we know it now is about to change due to two technologies that interconnected - nanotechnology and claytronics.  We can now manufacture a computer less than 1mm in size that can network itself to thousands of other computers of the same size through their own network.  These computers have been given the name catoms.
Claytronics is a concept that combines nanotechnology and modular programmable robotics to create what is also called programmable matter, programmable grit, dynamic physical rendering or synthetic reality. Very small components, called claytronic atoms or catoms, have the ability to move and morph into shapes controlled by a communications network.
This will mean that matter can basically be transformed into any shape for virtually any purpose.  There will be furniture that changes shape to fit the need of the moment.  Seemingly blank walls that can grow a sink in minutes before our eyes.  These catoms can even duplicate themselves into the form of people that we would find real looking.  They would be physical things not holograms.

Nanotechnology is the technology that has the ability to make very small machines that are so small they cannot even be seen traditional microscopes.  All this technology has been quietly developing while most people go about their daily lives unaware of the revolution that is taking place at the same time.

The main research for this Claytronics Project is being done at Carnegie-Mellon University headed by Professor Seth Goldstein.  For a more detailed video you can go here.  Justin Rattner, Intel's Chief Technology Officer stated that CMU's claymation project, which relies on tiny processors called "catoms" to create a pocket-sized slab that will turn into anything – a car key or a video screen. "But the rate at which it's advancing has really surprised us. We're beginning to have realistic conversations about getting it down in the range of a few hundred microns. Whether it's five years away or ten years away it's hard to tell."  This was said in 2008.

It is clear that this technology WILL arrive.  There is just too much demand for its millions of applications.  A very crude and early use of catoms was done in 2007.  A chair that could reassemble itself.

Some theorize sending 3D faxes where the physical item will assemble an exact physical duplicate on the other end of the call through instructions given to the catoms through the phone line.  This includes images of people whom one could speak with as if they were physically there.  Wil Mccarthy's book Hacking Matter discusses this from a scientific and engineering view.  You can read portions of the book here or if you like the paper version better click on the link below to see it on Amazon.  Eventually entire buildings could be built and reassembled to suit a different purpose.  This all sounds like a fantasy but it is not!  What do you think?  Post a comment!


Anonymous said...

After watching the first few videos that last one of the robotic chair putting itself back together just seemed slow and outdated already, compared with the ones on the programmable matter. With all this cool technology coming out, I cant wait to see what life is going to be like in even ten years from now.

Jeremiah Bilas said...

I wonder how much of my body will have integrated into programable matter by the time my chairs are. Instead of taking a seat I'd prefer my bottom half simply become part chair, then I can sit down wherever.

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hasan said...

The Soft-Machine Outfit in "The Cloud Connection" ebook works in a similar way. Built for military purposes it can adapt to any combat situation.