RADICAL ATOMS

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photo: © 2012 Tangible Media Group / MIT Media Lab

How do we get the digital (back) into the physical world? An answer to this question could be so-called radical atoms. In a sort of digital core meltdown, they bond information and material—the information liberated from the constraints of the pixel realm, the atoms wrenched out of their static state and set in motion. The results are smart materials that can be computer-modeled and remodeled into ever-new forms. Radical atoms in the hands of visionary scientists and engineers are being formed into high-tech materials and applications with astounding properties and capabilities. Neuroscience and biotechnology, robotics, hardware and software play roles in this; so do traditional practices in the crafts and trades. A hotspot of these trailblazing developments is the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where Hiroshi Ishii and his Tangible Media Group have been working on new forms of human-machine interaction for over 20 years. The breakthrough prototypes that have been emerging there can now be seen in the Radical Atoms exhibition at the Ars Electronica Center.

“Every pixel is an optical illusion, but nothing real. Our belief is ‘tangibility’. You can directly touch and manipulate and feel.”

Hiroshi Ishii, director of the Tangible Media Group of MIT Media Lab

 

This project is presented in the framework of the European Digital Art and Science Network and co-funded by the Creative Europe program of the European Union.
In cooperation with GREINER GROUP.

Blog

Hiroshi Ishii explains his vision of RADICAL ATOMS on our blog.

Exhibits

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Perfect Red

Perfect Red represents a clay-like material preprogrammed to have many of the features of Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software. Perfect Red is a fictional material that can be sculpted like clay—with hands and hand tools—and responds according to rules inspired by CAD operations, including snapping to primary geometries, Boolean operations, and parametric design.

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ZeroN

What if materials could defy gravity, such that we could leave them suspended anywhere in mid-air? ZeroN is a new physical/digital interaction element that can levitate and move freely, guided by both the human and the computer in three dimensional space.

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Topobo

Topobo

What is it like to sculpt with motion? Topobo is a construction toy with kinetic memory, able to record and playback physical motion.

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Sandscape

SandScape

SandScape is a tangible interface for designing and understanding landscapes through a variety of computational simulations using sand.

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MusicBottles

musicBottles

musicBottles is an interactive installation for visitors to interact with soundwaves encapsulated in bottles.

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Lift-Bit

Lift-Bit

Lift-Bit is a modular, digitally reconfigurable furniture system that allows a sofa to seamlessly turn into a chair, a chaise longue, a bed, a complete lounge and a myriad of other configurations.

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LineForm

LineFORM

Lines have several interesting characteristics from the perspective of interaction design: abstractness of data representation; a variety of inherent interactions; and constraints as boundaries or borderlines.

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inForm

inForm

inFORM is a shape display that gives physical form to digital information. Motorized pins extend from a tabletop to form a physical sculpture that users can view, touch and deform.

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PneUI

PneUI

Energy or substance, air is one the most abundant resources on earth. In many mythologies across culture, air brings life to and animate static substance.

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jamSheets

jamSheets

This work introduces layer jamming as an enabling technology for designing deformable, stiffness-tunable, thin sheet interfaces.

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bioLogic

bioLogic

bioLogic is growing living actuators and synthesizing responsive bio-skin in the era where bio is the new interface.

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Rovables

Rovables

We envision that future wearable technology will move around the human body, and will react to its host and the environment.

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Active Wood

Active Wood Products

Novel printing and composite material technologies can now overcome previous limitations on wood forming. Flat sheets of customprinted wood composite can be designed to selftransform in controlled and unique ways.

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Drone-100

Drone 100

The Ars Electronica Futurelab launched its Spaxels (space pixels) R&D program in 2012 and has been enhancing and upgrading the technology ever since. In November 2015, the Ars Electronica Futurelab teamed up with Intel for an aviation feat that set a world record in the category “Most Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) airborne simultaneously.”

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