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Tag Archives: mit

These Little Blocks Could Herald Self-Assembling Structures

Self-stacking robotic blocks

The folks at MIT are always cooking up some interesting technology, and the latest we’ve come across is the self-stacking M-Blocks. Each little cube contains a radio, a printed circuit board, a flywheel that can spin up to 20,000 rpm, and magnets that line the edges. With these, the cubes are able to move around on their own and stack themselves in all kinds of different configurations. Heck, they’re even able to make small leaps!

Currently only a proof of concept, it’s possible that the guts be one day miniaturized enough to allow for more complex structures to be built using only an assembly program and the self-stacking building blocks themselves. Human intervention barely required.

“These proof-of-concept robots are the first step in a project that will hopefully lead to the development of modular robot blocks that are cable of generic lattice-based self-reconfiguration.”

Couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

[ Popsci ] VIA [ Gizmodo ]

We’ve Seen The Future, And It’s In This MIT Motion-Tracked Table

4n4pa

Just watch that GIF and tell us if your mind isn’t blown. It’s a project by a team at MIT called inFORM. It seems to involve a table with an array of individually actuated push-rods, which are in turn controlled by a motion-tracking camera. Here’s how they explain it:

Past research on shape displays has primarily focused on rendering content and user interface elements through shape output, with less emphasis on dynamically changing UIs. We propose utilizing shape displays in three different ways to mediate interaction: to facilitate by providing dynamic physical affordances through shape change, to restrict by guiding users with dynamic physical constraints, and to manipulate by actuating physical objects.

If we’re understanding their jargon correctly, the team is looking to develop a man/machine interaction that doesn’t involve a static user interface. In other words, they’re exploring ways in which we could interact with machines in the future. What does that mean in practical terms? We’re not sure, but a user on Reddit suggests a table that can pass the salt itself… It’s funny, but hey, the possibilities appear limitless and we’re glad folks with some semblance of competence are working on this stuff.

Watch the full video below to get a better idea of how awesome this is.

[ Project Page ] AND [ Full Paper ] VIA [ Reddit ]

Thanks to MIT, Phone Cameras Can Now Be Used to Monitor People’s Heart Rates

MIT Measure Heartbeat

Have you noticed how your head moves back and forth a little when you’re sitting still? That motion is a result of your blood rushing up to your brain and throughout your body with every beat of your heart. It’s an interesting phenomenon, and it also happens to the basis of an algorithm that researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab came up with.

Basically, this slight back-and-forth movement is monitored on video. The person’s skin color changes are analyzed to determine his pulse and heart rate. It is also used to identify any erratic activity, which is especially useful when diagnosing heart issues.

Continue Reading

Flyfire Creates Giant Dynamic 3D Display With Self-Organizing Micro Helicopters

Update- Apparently Flyfire is a secret still, since it looks like MIT has pulled the video, plus the website, just an hour or so after we posted this. Weird…

flyfiresm
By Evan Ackerman

The problem with true three dimensional displays (displays that you can walk around) is that they require pixels to be floating in space. This has been done with lasers and plasma, but such technologies are super expensive and limited in many ways. MIT’s SENSEable City Laboratory in collaboration with ARES Lab (Aerospace Robotics and Embedded Systems Laboratory) has hit upon the idea of creating huge free form three dimensional displays out of individual “smart pixels” made up of micro helicopters carrying LEDs:

Gigantic 3D displays made up of swarms of micro helicopters that can be released into any open space… How awesome is that? More, after the jump.Continue Reading

Cornucopia Personal Food Factory Concept

Finished-work

By Evan Ackerman

In the future, all of our food will come in tubes. Why? Because that’s just how things work in the future (the pre-replicator future, obviously). And I know you’re thinking, “wow! That’s convenient!” But only uncultured heathens would eat food straight out of the tube. I mean, spluh! This is why you need a food printer, and MIT is getting way ahead of the future by starting to work on one in the present.

The Cornucopia personal food factory is essentially just a 3D printer that uses cartridges of food instead of cartridges of plastic or whatever. So like, if you feel like an apple, you just put an apple cartridge in, run the apple program, and wait while printer extrudes an apple shape. Heating and cooling elements in the print heads do all of the cooking for you, and by combining different cartridges in a single dish you can potentially create some truly horrific meals.

[ MIT Fluid Interfaces Group ] VIA [ Shapeways Blog ]