Manufacturing Minute: A Creepy Worm-Like Robot That Changes Shape

In this episode, a shape-shifting robot that can perform a variety of tasks.

The MIT Tangible Media Group has come up with a “Shape Changing Interface” called LineFORM. Getting its name from its shape, the all-in-one, worm-like robot can switch from one task to another, flexing to whatever form necessary.

Using a technology called an “actuated curve interface,” LineFORM has the potential to function as a variety of things, including: a mobile device, a shape-changing cord for a device, a reading lamp and a “smart” ruler among many other tasks.

The outside appears like a soft, lumpy worm, but the inside parts consist of several small servo motors and covered with a touch sensor-embedded spandex skin. Just like your smartphone is a phone, computer, game system, radio and camera all in one, the makers hope that this “all-in-one” device will eliminate the need for unnecessary hardware.

The LineFORM is currently just a prototype, but it serves as a relatively functional model to understand its abilities. In demos, one particular issue observed by visitors is that the LineFORM can “startle” or make users uncomfortable with its rapid shifting – something its makers are taking into consideration for future prototypes.


Will this all-in-one technology replace superfluous hardware? What applications would it prove to be most beneficial in?

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