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Claytronics is a concept that combines nanotechnology and modular programmable robotics to create what is also called programmable matter, programmable grit, dynamic physical rendering or synthetic reality. Very small components, called claytronic atoms or catoms, have the ability to move and morph into shapes controlled by a communications network.

Claytronics-Discovery Channel Feature – [youtube.com]

Discovery Channel amazing feature story on robotics

Welcome to the Claytronics Project
– [cmu.edu]

Realizing the vision of claytronics through the self-assembly of millions of catoms into synthetic reality will have a profound effect on the experience of users of electronic information. This promise of claytronic technology has become possible because of the ever increasing speeds of computer processing predicted in Moore’s Law.

Dynamic Physical Rendering (DPR) – [intel.com]

What the researchers propose to make are moving, physical, three-dimensional replicas of people or objects, so lifelike that human senses would accept them as real. This would eliminate the need for cumbersome virtual reality gear and overcome the viewing angle limitations of modern 3D approaches. The replicas would mimic the shape and appearance of a person or object being imaged in real time, and as the originals moved, so would their replicas. These 3D models would be physical entities, not holograms. You could touch them and interact with them, just as if the originals were in the room with you.

When you finished using a replica for one purpose, you could transform it into another useful shape. A human replica could morph into a desk, a chair could become a keyboard, a lamp could be transformed into a ladder.

Replicas could be scaled up or down in size, to suit the needs of a particular application. A damaged nerve ending could be rendered at ten times its actual size, making it easier to repair. The Super Bowl could be replicated in miniature, with players two inches tall scrambling across a tabletop “field”.


Potential Applications of Dynamic Physical Rendering

The potential applications of dynamic physical rendering are limited only by the imagination. Following are a few of the possibilities:

Medicine: A replica of your physician could appear in your living room and perform an exam. The virtual doctor would precisely mimic the shape, appearance and movements of your “real” doctor, who is performing the actual work from a remote office.

Disaster relief: Human replicas could serve as stand-ins for medical personnel, firefighters, or disaster relief workers. Objects made of programmable matter could be used to perform hazardous work and could morph into different shapes to serve multiple purposes. A fire hose could become a shovel, a ladder could be transformed into a stretcher.

Sports instruction: A renowned tennis teacher, golf instructor, or soccer coach could “appear” at clinics in multiple locations.

Entertainment: A football game, ice skating competition or other sporting event could be replicated in miniature on your coffee table. A movie could be recreated in your living room, and you could insert yourself into the role of one of the actors.

3D physical modeling: Physical replicas could replace 3D computer models, which can only be viewed in two dimensions and must be accessed through a keyboard and mouse. Using claytronics, you could reshape or resize a model car or home with your hands, as if you were working with modeling clay. As you manipulated the model directly, aided by embedded software that’s similar to the drawing tools found in office software programs, the appropriate computations would be carried out automatically. You would not have to work at a computer at all; you would simply work with the model.

Using claytronics, multiple people at different locations could work on the same model. As a person at one location manipulated the model, it would be modified at every location.

Utility Fog
Smart Dust
Modular Robotics

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