Innovation Watch: Marvellous Moulded Material

We look at the potential experiential applications of a new wonder material developed at Rice University. This rubbery, shape-shifting substance smoothly morphs from one form to another on demand.

Imagine a material that can change completely change its shape at the press of a button. Well, it’s less science fiction than you might think! Rice University scientists have created a shape-shifting material that, according to the team “smoothly morphs from one sophisticated form to another on demand.”

It works by using a combination of two elements. One holds its shape when hot and the second holds its shape when cold. At least, that’s the simple description without getting into detail about nanoscale and liquid crystals.

The material has been designed with the idea of being used in soft robots that mimic organisms or in biomedical applications that demand materials hold a certain shape at body temperature.

However, we let our imaginations run and dreamt up some more experiential focused uses of this amazing material.

Firstly, we could have a lot of fun with revealing hidden elements to an activation. Picture being at a show with a 3D sign that physically changes to announce the arrival of an unannounced special guest.

As well as signage it could also be used for something more interactive. We could have guests or delegates complete puzzles or games which, when completed, activate the material and reveal a secret code that could be used to enter a prize draw!

The material is in its early stages yet, but we’re going to keep our eye on it as it develops. Watch this space!