Thursday, August 09, 2007


No one's even sure what to call it. "Claytronics," "synthetic reality" and "programmable matter" have been proposed. "Dynamic physical rendering" is the label Intel uses. Its an emerging field of engineering concerning reconfigurable nanoscale robots ('claytronic atoms', or catoms) designed to form much larger scale machines or mechanisms. Also known as "programmable matter", the catoms are said to eventually have the ability to morph into nearly any object, even replicas of human beings for virtual meetings.

Cameras would capture the movement of an object or person and then this data would be fed to the atoms, which would then assemble themselves to make up an exact likeness of the object.

Professors Todd Mowry and Seth Goldstein of Carnegie Mellon University came up with the idea based on "claytronics," the animation technique which involves slightly moving a model per frame to animate it.

"We thought that a good analogy for what we were going to do was claymation - something like the Wallace and Gromit shows," Dr Mowry told BBC World Service's Outlook programme.

"When you watch something created by claymation, it is a real object and it looks like it's moving itself. That's something like the idea we're doing... in our case, the idea is that you have computation in the 'clay', as though the clay can move itself.

"So if it was a dog, and you want the dog to move, it will actually move itself. But it is a physical object in front of you - it's not just a picture or hologram or something like that."

Ok, the nanokrispies idea is merely a sketch but maybe a small step closer towards a new world of "programmable food" concepts. So lets dream and just add "imilk" to our krispiesbowl and watch robotic characters grow out. Once they've finished assembling, get exercise and nutrition by hunting and eating them.

[+ wiki]
[+ nanokrispies]

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