Topobo is a lego-like construction set with a twist: certain parts have kinetic memory. Combining active and passive modular parts, just about anyone can construct forms that can be taught how to move. The “actives” have motors which can record and play back how they’ve been repositioned. Sensor modules called “backpacks” add sensor feedback and variable controls directly to the actives, which can be controlled without the need for programming: simply tune the sensor’s dial by hand to modify the speed, size, timing, and orientation of a recorded motion. Other backpacks are equipped with sensors, such as light sensors (allowing your creation to react to varying light conditions). The complexity of your creation can be further enhanced with “queens”, which can control many other actives by copying its own movement to them simultaneously.
Topobo was invented at MIT’s Media Lab by Hayes Raffle and Amanda Parkes. With a little ingenuity (or trial and error), you can create walking quadrupeds, rolling snakes, and whatever else you can imagine. Check out the videos after the break.
[source: K. Moriyama's diary]
- Topobo (official website EN)
- Hayes Raffle’s Topobo portfolio page (EN)
- Hayes Raffle’s Youtube channel