It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.

Please white-list or disable in your ad-blocking tool.

Thank you.


Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.


Programmable Matter ...

page: 1

log in


posted on Jul, 23 2009 @ 03:54 PM
What is Programmable Matter?

Programmable matter refers to matter which has the ability to change its physical properties (shape, density, moduli, optical properties, etc.) in a programmable fashion, based upon user input or autonomous sensing. Programmable matter is thus linked to the concept of a material which inherently has the ability to perform information processing.

Or as our friends over at Singularity Hub put it:

We still tell our children “you can be anything when you grow up.” It’s time to start telling them “you’re going to be able to make anything…right now.” Similar work at MIT and Carnegie Mellon is pointing towards the next revolution in computers and manufacturing: programmable matter. In the future you won’t use computers to design a car, the car will form from billions of tiny computers that arrange themselves into anything you want. The physical and computational world will merge. Hope you’re ready.

How can a material be intelligent? By being made up of particle-sized machines. At Carnegie Mellon, with support from Intel, the project is called Claytronics. The idea is simple: make basic computers housed in tiny spheres that can connect to each other and rearrange themselves. It’s the same concept as we saw with Modular Robotics, only on a smaller scale. Each particle, called a Claytronics atom or Catom, is less than a millimeter in diameter. With billions you could make almost any object you wanted. See the concept video after the break.

The technology:

This project combines modular robotics, systems nanotechnology and computer science to create the dynamic, 3-Dimensional display of electronic information known as claytronics.
Our goal is to give tangible, interactive forms to information so that a user's senses will experience digital environments as though they are indistinguishable from reality.
Claytronics is taking place across a rapidly advancing frontier. This technology will help to drive breathtaking advances in the design and engineering of computing and hardware systems.
Our research team focuses on two main projects:

♦ Creating the basic modular building block of claytronics known as the claytronic atom or catom, and

♦ Designing and writing robust and reliable software programs that will manage the shaping of
ensembles of millions of catoms into dynamic, 3-Dimensional forms.
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.

Claytonics Project

A lot of good links and information on the main page including lots of multimedia.

The concept is similar to Modular Robotics but on a smaller scale. More information on that aspect of the technology, including many interesting videos can be found here.

What does it mean?

The world could really use programmable matter to move beyond living for day to day necessities and start exploring humanity’s potential. When everyone has access to a fabrication lab that can make almost anything, the world will be populated by inventors. Not only will every cubic meter have billions of computers, the world will have 7 billion (or more) human minds guiding those computers to new discoveries. In our life times, or our children’s, we will come to realize an inevitable and quite literal truth: the world is what we make it. sh

but ...

... that’s the dream, and I believe in it, but I would be amiss if I didn’t point out the nightmare. Look at the weapons humanity has made from sticks and stones and you can begin to imagine the destruction that could be unleashed with programmable matter. Even if we learn to love and let live, the programmable matter will have a huge amount of computational power, enough to support artificial intelligence. Can we hope to control a material that can out-think and out-build us? sh

Interesting and somewhat scary stuff, don't you think?

[edit on 23 Jul 2009 by schrodingers dog]

posted on Jul, 23 2009 @ 04:01 PM
Oh, and if you really want to see what's coming down the line, may I humbly suggest watching the following:

posted on Jul, 23 2009 @ 04:16 PM
I see all these endeavours as humans just trying to replicate themselves. We are brilliant machines that also learn on a cellular level. Soon these machines will go from robotic particles to biological particles, till eventually, we create what we've already got ~sigh

That said, the physical power of weaponry and robotics will be far superior, and we will only be able ot properly manage this technology when we move to evolving collectively as a species. Advancement like these would only benefit a collective purpose, not our current individual purposes....We're jumping ahead.....

posted on Jul, 23 2009 @ 05:45 PM
reply to post by zazzafrazz

Yep, and for those who think that this is for altruistic reasons only:

Universal ‘Rubik’s Cube’ Could Become Pentagon Shapeshifter


The goal of Programmable Matter Program is to demonstrate a new functional form of matter, based on mesoscale particles, which can reversibly assemble into complex 3D objects upon external command. These 3D objects will exhibit all the functionality of their conventional counterparts.

Programmable Matter represents the convergence of chemistry, information theory, and control into a new materials design paradigm referred to as "InfoChemistry"—building information directly into materials. To achieve the Programmable Matter vision, key technological breakthroughs will center on the following critical areas:

Encoding information into chemistry, or fusing materials with machines.
Fabrication of mesoscale particles with arbitrary complex shapes, composition, and function.
Interlocking/adhesion mechanisms that are strong and reversible.
Global assembly strategies that translate information into action.
Mathematical theory for construction of 3D objects from particles.
Of critical importance are radical new material architectures that maximize the efficiency of information processing/transfer, and design rules for the optimal number, size, and shape of particles required to create objects of a specific size and spatial feature resolution.

DARPA Programmable Matter

and if you act now:

DARPA Chemical Robots
DARPA Chemical Communications

Programmable Matter Research Solidifies

posted on Jul, 23 2009 @ 06:39 PM
I think technologies such as programmable matter, and any of the unprecedented "Converging Technologies" are definitely going to have very profound, life-changing, effects on humanity, yet they are probably the least discussed subjects here on ATS. Thanks for bringing this subject up, schrodingers dog.

Here's some more related threads-

6/11/09 - Mutating Matter: Revolutionary New Technology Creates “Soft” Robots That Flow Like Mercury (thread by ElectricUniverse)

Like something out of Terminator 2, researchers are developing techniques for warfare of the future to create materials that self-assemble or alter their shape, perform a function and then disassemble themselves. These capabilities offer the possibility for morphing aircraft and ground vehicles, uniforms that can alter themselves in any climate, and “soft” robots that flow like mercury through small openings to enter caves and bunker complexes.

Several university teams, including Harvard, Cornell, and MIT, are working on different approaches to create "programmable matter"—made of individual pieces that can self-assemble into tools or spare parts. One of the approaches being examined uses sheets of self-folding material that can form three-dimensional shapes on command.

6/9/09 - Pentagon Developing Shape-Shifting 'Transformers' for Battlefield (thread by spikedmilk)

Real-life "Transformers" could soon be used by American soldiers on the battlefield.

The Pentagon's research arm, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), is well into the second phase of a project to develop "programmable matter" that could reshape itself to fit any situation, reports SIGNAL magazine.

7/5/08 - Tufts to develop morphing 'chemical robots' (thread by aecreate)

Scientists at Tufts University have received a $3.3 million contract from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop chemical robots that will be so soft and squishy that they will be able to squeeze into spaces as tiny as 1 centimeter, then morph back into something 10 times larger, and ultimately biodegrade.

The advantages of using unmanned devices to conduct dangerous or difficult operations are clear, and the U.S. has invested in such devices for years. But today's rigid robots, constructed mostly of hard materials, are unable to navigate complex environments with openings of arbitrary size and shape. They are stymied by, say, a building whose only access points may be a crack under a door or a conduit for an electrical cable.

And some other threads I thought would relate well-

12/11/08 - Report Finds US Lacks Safety Plan For Nanotechnology (thread by smokecrops)

A new report by the National Research Council (NRC) finds that the federal government’s plan for nanotechnology lacks direction, and falls short in assessing the risks posed by nanomaterials.

In its report, released Wednesday, the committee said current U.S. strategy developed by the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) leaves the industry vulnerable to public mistrust

The NRC further criticized the lack of adequate research to ensure the safety of workers, consumers and the environment

6/13/08 - The BIGGEST change to our world to come. NANOTECHNOLOGY. The Good, The bad and The Ugly. (thread by _Phoenix_)

Classic IIB material-
5/30/07 - Beyond Conspiracy: Artificial General Intelligence (Newsletter Special) (thread by IgnoranceIsntBlisss)

posted on Jul, 23 2009 @ 06:47 PM
We are certainly moving fast in a lot of new areas. Aren't we?
S&F because i was a bit behind ( about 6 months) with last developments. Really ineresting stuff.

The only think that i am still not sure of humanity being able to fullfill is the saviour of the plannet... but thats another story. An environmental one.

posted on Jul, 23 2009 @ 07:41 PM
reply to post by schrodingers dog

Surprisingly although i have watched a load of the TED Presentations i had missed that one by Neil Gershenfeld. There is no end what we can achieve knowledge efficiently!

posted on Jul, 23 2009 @ 09:14 PM
I've seen some of these things, but a few caught me off guard... the entire time I couldn't help but thing of the terminator. "Computing material" sounds a lot like an invincible computer when coupled with programmable matter and internet zero.

Imagine a computer that could take the shape of anything it wants at will, and doesn't have a 'brain' but the material it is comprised of is what it runs on... so if a piece falls off, it can still function.

Also the ability for every object potentially integrating with the internet. As a Moore's Law skeptic, this information makes it actually sounds very attainable!

Perhaps the point of Infinite Novelty could truly be around the corner! Let's work towards full brain download.

[edit on 7.23.2009 by Avarus]

posted on Jul, 24 2009 @ 10:18 AM
I've posted a thread on this based on some work tesla did and what I consider to be his "unfinished business". Claytronics aren't ment to be programmable matter as much as they are meant to be programmable modeling clay. The physical form of an object will be obtained (given from their current progress, thats down the road) but no part of the project is being ment to reproduce chemical properties. Thats not to say it isn't an amazing undertaking as taking computer code and rendering a physical object is quite impressive, they just aren't going to be able to make the terminator out of it.

Another interesting project is the Soft Matter project. This is more biologically based but still has the best chemical potential of anything I've seen so far. Still nothing quite as advanced as to completely render matter to one's whim. Yet...

[edit on 24-7-2009 by Eitimzevinten]

posted on Jul, 24 2009 @ 10:59 AM

Originally posted by zazzafrazz
I see all these endeavours as humans just trying to replicate themselves. We are brilliant machines that also learn on a cellular level. Soon these machines will go from robotic particles to biological particles, till eventually, we create what we've already got ~sigh

That said, the physical power of weaponry and robotics will be far superior, and we will only be able ot properly manage this technology when we move to evolving collectively as a species. Advancement like these would only benefit a collective purpose, not our current individual purposes....We're jumping ahead.....

How did you become so smart?

I think you and I are already a collective. That is, if you allow me to flatter myself with the idea.

I understand there is a weapons potential and in the wrong hands an extinction waiting to happen. But Star Treck replicators for dinner and drinks....I can't wait. Will you join me?

posted on Jul, 24 2009 @ 01:32 PM
I was thinking of mind control.
Its insidiously used on us all in one way or another.
It can't be helped.
That's the only other programming of matter, human matter.
And then there are physical ways of changing matter and human matter.

top topics


log in