Autonomous swarming blocks basis for display concept

Autonomous swarming blocks basis for display concept

Summary: Designer Julia Tsao presented a seemingly outlandish yet provocative idea for a futuristic display at this week's Emerging Communications conference. The project, called Curious Displays, does away with fixed form factor convention and is instead made up of hundreds of half inch autonomous blocks programmed with swarm intelligence.

SHARE:
TOPICS: Servers
3

Designer Julia Tsao presented an outlandish yet provocative idea for a futuristic display at this week's Emerging Communications conference.

The project, called Curious Displays, does away with fixed form factor convention and is instead made up of hundreds of half inch autonomous blocks programmed with swarm intelligence.

Tsao said that she set out to answer the question: What is next after the flat screen? Her response led to a novel idea that rolls into one virtual pet, augmented reality, and swarm robotics.

Credit: James Duncan Davidson

Credit: James Duncan Davidson

The system is comprised of blocks that move across any physical surface and operate independently of one another, but are aware of the position and role relative to the rest of the system.

That makes it is very fluid in the sense that you can be watching Finding Nemo on one wall, and then the blocks can transition to another location in the room and arrange themselves in a manner to communicate time and location specific information, such as a reminder to water your plant (see video below).

From Tsao's site: "With this awareness, the blocks are able to coordinate with the other blocks to reconfigure their positioning to form larger display surfaces and forms depending on purpose and function. In this way, the blocks become a physical embodiment of digital media, and act as a vehicle for the physical manifestation of what typically exists only in the virtual space of the screen."

Given the operational challenges that Tsao acknowledges (in case the display bots run amok, there's an accompanying remote control with a big red kill button), Curious Displays may never materialize, but this kind of ingenuity could pave the way for related iterations that also combine the technologies used.

Curious Displays from Julia Tsao on Vimeo.

Topic: Servers

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

3 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • variable number would be nicer

    I think I'd rather have the upgraded model that would be able to spawn
    and expire additional blocks whenever something besides my primary
    activity needs attention. I don't want my main screen to erode if my
    underwear need picking up.

    This set number of blocks would be great for obsessive compulsive types
    though..
    Htalk
  • Umm, no.

    Umm, while it makes for a cool video - no. Doesn't look
    like it would make a good display.

    For the kind of stuff demonstrated in this video, it's
    far more likely that "augmented reality" displays will be
    used.
    CobraA1
  • No big ugly empty box

    Hey, the main thing to me seems that they could all hide behind the couch & you wouldn't have the big empty box on the wall when the TV's not on. Maybe they could pick up the cat hair while they're there...
    Carrie Johnson