"Claytronics" is an emerging field of engineering concerning reconfigurable Nanoscale robots ('claytronic atoms', or catoms) designed to form much larger scale machines or mechanisms. Also known as "programmable matter", the catoms will be sub-millimeter computers that will eventually have the ability to move around, communicate with each others, change color, and electrostatically connect to other catoms to form different shapes. The forms made up of catoms could morph into nearly any object, even replicas of human beings for virtual meetings.
With Claytronics we are talking of intelligent material. 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.?????? This project combines modular robotics, systems nanotechnology and computer science to create the dynamic, 3-Dimensional display of electronic information known as Claytronics.
The main 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.
The goal of the claytronics project (AKA Synthetic reality) is to understand and develop the hardware and software neccesary to create programmable matter, a material which can be programmed to form dynamic three dimensional shapes which can interact in the physical world and visually take on an arbitrary appearance
Claytronics refers to an ensemble of individual components, called catoms?for claytronic atoms?that can move in three dimensions (in relation to other catoms), adhere to other catoms to maintain a 3D shape, and compute state information (with possible assistance from other catoms in the ensemble). Each catom contains a CPU, an energy store, a network device, a video output device, one or more sensors, a means of locomotion, and a mechanism for adhering to other catoms.
The power and flexibility that will arise from being able to "program" the world around us should influence every aspect of the human experience. Claytronics is a technology which can serve as the means of implementing a new communication medium, which we call pario. The idea behind pario is to reproduce moving, physical 3D objects. Similar to audio and video, we are neither transporting the original phenomena nor recreating an exact replica: instead, the idea is to create a physical artifact that can do a good enough job of reproducing the shape, appearance, motion, etc., of the original object that our senses will accept it as being close enough.
Moore's law describes a long-term trend in the history of computing hardware. The number of transistors that can be placed inexpensively on an integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years. This trend has continued for more than half a century and is expected to continue until 2015 or 2020 or later.
The capabilities of many digital electronic devices are strongly linked to Moore's law: processing speed, memory capacity, sensors and even the number and size of pixels in digital cameras
Claytronics Vs Nanotechnology
Forget Nanotechnology, Think Claytronics
Videoconferencing is like visiting someone in prison. You talk through a glass wall, but you can't deal with each other in a meaningful way.
With Claytronics you could fax over an exact copy of your body, which will sit in that conference room thousands of miles away, mimicking your moves in real time and speaking with your voice.
Claytronics experts are designing a kind of programmable clay that can morph into a working 3-D replica of any person or object, based on information transmitted from anywhere in the world. The clay would be made out of millions of tiny microprocessors called catoms (for "claytronic atoms"), each less than a millimeter wide. The catoms would bond electro-statically and be molded into different shapes when instructed by software.
Think of Claytronics as a more workable version of nanotechnology, which in its most advanced form promises to do the same thing but requires billions of self-assembling robots.
Processors are getting ever smaller, and at the submilli-meter level, they could communicate and move around independently, thanks to electrostatic forces. This makes the possibility of Claytronics even greater.
Intel and Carnegie Mellon joined forces in 2005 to cosponsor a project with a team of 25 robotics researchers and computer scientists. Their first breakthrough came when they developed software that can root out bugs in a system where millions of processors are working together.
The researchers say they will have a hardware prototype of submillimeter electrostatic modules in five years and will be able to fax complex 3-D models --anything from engagement rings to sports cars -- by 2017.
These are the fundamental building blocks for a new world of processing. Intel can see the potential.
That potential could change the world. Who needs a TV when you can watch a live-scale replica of a cricket match being fought out by claytronic ?players on your coffee table? Why would a firefighter run into a burning building when he can send a claytronic version of himself? It's computing in 3-D in everyday life.
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