MIT’s Media Lab just created a prototype of a snake-like device that may change the way people interact with, and use, technology. Dubbed LineFORM, the robot uses a series of actuators that can move either together or independently in order to form new shapes. Demonstrations of the technology show that it can wrap around your wrist, uncoil and fold to form a 2D surface, extend to become an “expressive” cord, or be applied as a dynamic body constraint.
Notably, each of these transformations serves an important purpose. For example, you can wear the robot around your wrist like a bracelet, and when you get a phone call, the device will move in order to alert you. From there, the robot can transform into the shape of a phone, so you can use it to speak to whoever is calling.
Given the flexibility of its form, LineFORM’s shape-shifting capabilities has numerous applications. In addition to the previously mentioned communication functions, the tech can also operate as a light source. And since it is shape-shifting, it can provide light from a number of angles and positions. As a dynamic exo-skeleton, it can operate at different resistance levels for physical therapy or strength training.
In a press release, the researchers behind the technology assert that it opens up “new possibilities for display, interaction, and body constraint.”