ChainFORM is a Linear Integrated Modular Hardware System for Shape Changing Interfaces
(ChainFORM the short version)
What members of the university’s Tangible Media and Responsive Environments Group have created is a concept called ChainFORM: a modular robot that can change its form factor into anything from the legs of a walking robot to a haptic-feedback device to a gaming joystick, all depending on how you put the modules together.
Speaking with Digital Trends, researcher Ken Nakagaki described it as a “novel platform for shape-changing interfaces.”
“Utilizing modular robotics technology, we developed a hardware system with rich functionality to detect tangible interaction, change shape and color, and let users customize the length and configuration of the device,” he said.
(ChainFORM: A Linear Integrated Modular Hardware System for Shape Changing Interfaces)
Somewhat earlier, Golden Age legend Jack Williamson wrote a great story titled The Infinite Enemy, published in Thrilling Wonder Stories in 1938, in which an alternate universe is found to contain a being comprised of metallic cubes.
Fans of early scientifiction may recall the living metal cubes from The Metal Monster, a 1920 story by Abraham Merritt.
Faster the cubes moved; faster the circle revolved; the pyramids raised themselves, stood bolt upright on their square bases; the six rolling spheres touched them, joined the spinning, and with sleight-of-hand suddenness the ring drew together; its units coalesced, cubes and pyramids and globes threading with a curious suggestion of ferment.
With the same startling abruptness there stood erect, where but a moment before they had seethed, a little figure, grotesque; a weirdly humorous, a vaguely terrifying foot-high shape, squared and angled and pointed and ANIMATE—as though a child should build from nursery blocks a fantastic shape which abruptly is filled with throbbing life.