Paper That Can Fold and Move Itself

autogami3There are all sorts of design enthusiasts: type fans, embossing buffs and (we’re looking at you, Fold Factory’s Trish Witkowski) folding fanatics.

After all these years, it sometimes seems we’ve seen every type of fold that can be managed. Where to go from here? How about folding something…remotely?

A prototype toolkit designed to bring movement to paper has been developed by Shen Zhao, assistant professor of computer science at the National University of Singapore. Inspired by a similar Japanese technology, Zhao and Ph.D student Kening Zhu refined it by making it less bulky and simplifying its controls. Their version, dubbed “Autogami,” can be used by “anyone who’s handy with paper and scissors,” according to this Discovery.com piece.

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Autogami uses a technology called “selective inductive wireless power transmission,” which allows different parts of the paper project to be controlled independently. Simply install some shape memory alloy pieces – lightweight metals that can be bent, but return to their original shape when heated – turn it on, and that part of your creation moves. Turn it off and the metal pulls the paper back to its original position.

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Crafting a paper piece that automatically folds or unfolds in a pre-determined way could be only the beginning. There are very few limits to how this technology could be used to bring your design work to life.

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