You're welcome, Habib. I think your ideas about applications for the MIT cubes are interesting, but am concerned about whether the magnetic bonds would have sufficient strength for load-bearing uses. We discussed this in the comments section to the M-Blocks story. What do you think?
Thanks for noticing the connection, Habib. We've covered the MIT work, both the recent big cubes (M- Blocks) http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1392&doc_id=268858 and the earlier, somewhat different work with tiny ones http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1386&doc_id=243258
This reminds me of MIT self-assembling cubed robots. The simple working principle of the cubed robot is its greatest strength. With no moving or connected parts the robot just uses the momentum generated from an internal fly wheel to leap and bound distances, and connects with other blocks using face magnets. What interests me even more are the potential applications for these self-assembling robots. Perhaps they could be used to build bridges or scaffolding systems for construction projects or be used for something as simple as spontaneous furniture that can take on many forms such a desk or a footrest.
RogueMoon, thanks for your comments. In the world of self-assembly R&D, the term is used correctly here in a general overall sense, although "self-configuring" or "self-reconfiguring" might be more accurate and specific. I still think the term "4D," although technically accurate, is silly and more hype than useful description.
With the 4th dimension commonly accepted as time, the Title for this process is rather 'tongue-in-cheek', simply because it takes longer to produce the parts due to the added process of integrating the shape-changing elements. (not really aligned with Einstein's paradigm of X,Y,Z, & T as the 4th dimension; I think)
Then, on the topic of taking extra time to place those elements, the article didn't really describe much there. That's really the impactful content, isn't it-? The 'In-Process' integration of the shape-change material-?
At this year's MD&M West show, lots of material suppliers are talking about new formulations for wearables and things that stick to the skin, whether it's adhesives, wound dressings, skin patches and other drug delivery devices, or medical electronics.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.