Life imitates... Frenzy?

Discussion in 'Transformers General Discussion' started by SmokescreenWRX, Mar 9, 2009.

  1. SmokescreenWRX

    SmokescreenWRX Dude. Wait, what?

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    Intel Envisions Shape-Shifting Smartphones

    Posted by Alexander Wolfe, Mar 9, 2009 08:42 AM


    If you think iPhones have set the template for the gadgets of the next 25 years, then get ready to think different. Intel is quietly engaged in some of the coolest research this side of Star Trek. At Intel's Pittsburgh Lab, in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University, senior researcher Jason Campbell says: "We're working on materials that can change their shapes." Think of a smartphone that resizes itself into a netbook when you're ready to surf the web.

    I caught up with Jason at a recent Intel research showcase in New York City, and shot a short video where he explains how these shape-shifting materials could one day enable a smartphone to expand to the size of a netbook once you take it out of your pocket, and even go spherical so you can stick it on your ear, Bluetooth-like, to make a call.

    All these research is not pie-in-the-sky nonsense, but serious, incremental work that's being done as part of Intel and CMU's robotics studies. Right now, as Jason shows in the video, the team has built some robotic actuators, which are four to six inches long and cylindrical in shape, so that they can be placed, say, in a robot's arm. These actuators are the ultimate mash-up of electrical and mechanical components in an attempt to mimic a biological system.

    (I remarked that the actuator he showed me, which has a series of toroidal electromagnets along the bottom perimeter, looked like a flagellum, which is a bacterium equipped with what amounts to a biological motor. That motor -- actually a bunch of proteins -- whips the hair like flagellum around to propel the organism along.)

    Anyway, so I remarked to Jason that his team was obviously working to get these things down to fingernail size. "Actually, smaller," he replied.

    The material they're working with is transparent silicon dioxide hemispheres. Spherical or cylindrical materials, you see, lend themselves to reshaping. Now here's where it gets really cool -- these materials will be programmed to be reshaped -- via electrical impulses -- much like chips today can be reprogrammed via software.

    "Imagine what you would do with this material," Campbell explained. "My cell phone is too big in my pocket. It's too small to do e-mail with effectively. It doesn't really fit my [ear] when I make a call, and if I don't have a pocket, I'm stuck.

    So here's where the shape-shifting can be real-world useful. It takes the same amount of material to make a netbook-sized rectangle or a more densely-packed cellphone form-factor. How can this be? Because the larger rectangle is hollow, or "foamy," inside.

    So I said to Jason, incredulously: "You told me that you foresee a time where people will have a cellphone that can become bigger or smaller, depending on what you use it for. It will have software that will allow the hardware to change its shape."

    "That's right, depending on the application," Campbell replied. "So if you want to carry the device, you'd make it as small as possible [by] making it pack itself as densely as possible. When you go to [surf] the Web, you're going to make it as big as possible, you're going to make it "foamy."

    Practically speaking -- after all, the whole point is that this isn't magic, but science -- tube-like structures built out of the silicon dioxide spheres will "roll around" each other to accomplish this larger/smaller resizing dance.

    In separating the sci-fi aspect from the reality here, the big question is, when are we going to see this stuff outside of the research lab? In a few years, of in the next century? "In terms of the science," Campbell said, "We hope that we're three to five years away, in terms of producing millimeter-scale versions of those electromagnetic prototypes [the robotic actuators Campbell displays at the beginning of the video]."

    "In terms of me being able to buy it and put it in my pocket, that's a much more difficult forecasting problem, because I have to guess about manufacturing costs," Campbell said. "I won't do that. But we hope the science will be proved out in three to five years."

    Watch the video and then check out the pictures below of the current actuators and the silicon dioxide material which'll support the shape-shifting smartphone we will should see one day in the not terribly distant future.

    (Source link includes videos)
     
  2. caitlindevi

    caitlindevi Sculpticon

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    Right Thats Mass Shifting right there...well not really mass shifting more surface area reconfigureing...you seeing this Bay? if we can do this in 3-5 years time I'm damn sure alien bots have a way better vesion of it already. We can have trasnformers mass shifting and explain it away with this
     
  3. SmokescreenWRX

    SmokescreenWRX Dude. Wait, what?

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    :lol 
    I didn't mean this to start off a "mass shift flamwar"
    :popcorn 
     
  4. SPLIT LIP

    SPLIT LIP Dry built

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    I was kinda hoping for a demonstration, not some dude just talking about it. Though I don't think mass shifting would work the same way. Though I've been reading a book called "E=mc2, a biography" (it's good, I recommend it) that theorises that matter could convert to energy and vice-versa, and how a mass travelling near the speed of light would swell as energy was poured into it to try and make it go faster. (the energy would convert to matter at that speed) The energy wouldn't be able to make it go faster as only light travels that fast.

    Though for both these theories, say we use G1 Megatron: he would eitehr need to speed around in robot mode at near the speed of light, or he could be so frail in robot mode wind could destroy him. (or be so dense in gun mode nobody could hold him) Either would require almost non-existent amounts of energy.
     
  5. Omnus

    Omnus needs more time TFW2005 Supporter

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    I think it's a good idea not to bring mass shifting discussion into this, since this is specifically about a shape-shifting phone, not mass-shifting.

    And with regards to mass-shifting, light speed is not involved for a feasible method, check my sig for that one.

    BTW, is the TF General Discussion forum the best place for this, or is this more of a General Discussion topic (since it doesn't even have the word ;transform' in the article, much less anything more TF-related)?
     
  6. Ethereal

    Ethereal A Sad Flareon

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    The Nokia Morph is one more step away from reality...
     
  7. SPLIT LIP

    SPLIT LIP Dry built

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    It was more in response to caitlindevi, who brought it up. But mostly I have had that in me for a while. (since reading the book) No need to get apprehensive right off the bat.

    Again, I wasn't talking about what the most feasible way is, just speaking about what I read in a book. Reading the last bit in your post, though, leads me to believe that in that post you're just ranting on against the movie's lack of use of mass-shifting (calling it ignorant and even squeezing in a cheap jab a the movie designs) to justify your own disdain for it. But more to the point, my mention of lightspeed was a half-hearted joke about it, I wasn't actually being super serious. (I'm usually not) I'm also not a fan of how you chose to almost talk down to me. (not in this part, but your "tone" in general)

    The topic for discussion is how this could relate to TFs. Hence, it should belong here, as long as the topic for discussion remains centered around how this could apply to the Transformer fiction.
     
  8. Omnus

    Omnus needs more time TFW2005 Supporter

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    Okay, it looks like I wasn't doing much thinking on my options of how to reply to the thread, I just went on auto-pilot and quoted. It obviously looks like it would've been better if I had just replied without quoting anyone at all.

    Well, I do have a disdain for the movie since it fails to accurately apply science in almost every instance (including the design of most of the TFs 'robot' modes). I'm not going to go back and edit out the comments against the movie since it was appropriate to the topic at the time.

    The context is distracting, but that doesn't change that the content that can be relevant to any instance of mass-shifting discussion is there.

    It was not my intent to in any way to speak down to you. If you feel that I did so, I can only say that it was an accident due to my rushed posting, and I sincerely apologize for the tone of my post.

    Well, I did see this article elsewhere first and did think of TFs when I read about it. If someone else hadn't mentioned the article, I would have. I was just genuinely unsure of which forum the topic belonged in due to what I stated previously and wished to see the opinions of others in light of what I brought up in terms of forum-relevancy. My uncertainty comes from the fact that I have seen topics introduced exactly (or at least 'almost exactly') like this one was in the General Discussion forum.

    I genuinely was not saying that this topic should be moved, I was just bringing up my uncertainty in the matter.
     

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