Let MIT's Transforming Snake Robot Do It for You

This thing will help you talk to your computer better... or become the Batman.

by Beckett Mufson
09 November 2015, 3:20pm

LineFORM visually represents a file transfer. GIFs and screencaps via

A new gadget from MIT's Tangible Media Group looks like something Batman would have in an alternate universe where he had actually been scared by a cave full of snakes. Acting as both object and interface, LineFORM tranforms from an eponymous straight black line into everything from a telephone to a robot exoskeleton.

"Lines have several interesting characteristics from the perspective of interaction design," writes the team, led by Professor Hiroshi Ishii, in the video's description. These range from abstract of data representation like a loading bar, age-old interfaces like guitar strings, and the definition of borders in everything from maps to sports. "By utilizing such aspects of lines together with the added capability of shape-shifting, we present various applications in different scenarios such as shape changing cords, mobiles, body constraints, and data manipulation to investigate the design space of line-based shape changing interfaces."

The Tangible Media Group has spent the last several years redefining how we interact with technology, from a jacket that hugs you every time you get a Facebook like, to a "screen" made from shifting pins that can both display information and move physical objects across the surface. LineFORM represents a move away from surfaces and screens entirely, communicating more human, gestural data into computers, and allowing them to communicate with us more physically.

Check out the device in action below, and just try to tell us that thing couldn't be used to imbue a young billionaire with superhuman strength and knowledge of Kung Fu.

See more of the Tangible Media Group's projects on their website.


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kung fu
tangible media group
Hiroshi Ishii