These are incredibly useful tools that will help transform our world, especially health.
TED: Manu Prakash: A 50-cent microscope that folds like origami
TED Fellow Manu Prakash and his team have created a microscope made of paper that’s easy to fold and use. A sparkling demo that shows how this invention could revolutionize healthcare in developing countries … and turn almost anything into a fun, hands-on science experiment.
WSJ: Self-Folding Robot Based on Origami
While still experimental, engineering techniques drawn from origami promise the development of pop-up devices that could assemble themselves from flat, composite materials cheaply and efficiently, the researchers said. Potential applications range from self-assembling satellites to shape-shifting robots that could be used in search-and-rescue missions.
“Anything you can fold and that can support creases is capable of being engineered with these origami design principles,” said physicist Jesse L. Silverberg at Cornell University.
Engineers already use origami-inspired designs to create compact packages of solar-power cells that pop open on satellites, cardiac stents that prop up arteries and automobile air bags that burst open in accidents. Nanotechnology researchers, meantime, use the folding principles to make atomic-scale devices out of DNA molecules.
In the latest innovation, scientists at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology designed an origami robot that can fold itself up in about four minutes, turn and walk—all without human intervention.
The robot started as a pattern of creases etched on an 8½-by-11-inch sheet of polystyrene plastic. The material is the same as that used in a toy called Shrinky Dinks that shrink by 50% when heated. The researchers laminated the plastic with a sheet of paper, to add stiffness, and included a flexible electronic circuit board containing two batteries, two motors and a microcontroller.
An onboard heater warms the plastic, crease by crease, so that it folds in the proper sequence. “When it tries to shrink, it pulls on the paper and causes it to fold over.”