Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Expanding Spheres

Chuck Hoberman ( is an American inventor of transformable physical structures. His work is so optimally engineered that there is an inherent simplicity pervading all his structures. His design approach follows that of Richard Buckminster Fuller, who wanted man to become a comprehensive, scientific thinker, using minimal materials for maximum effects as to minimize waste, and free man from having to clean up all the mess that results from short-sighted behaviour. Hoberman's structures are extremely smart on a material level, the structural efficiency making it almost look like an idealized natural construction, living and breathing. It seems like the perfect symbiosis of a structural form and its behaviour. Humans could learn something from that.

Exemplified in the movie shown below, his work is often presented very sculpturally. Nevertheless, many applications can be thought of that would integrate his elegance more pervasively into the world. Think nanobots too small for the naked eye that suddenly become visible by expanding, think cellphones that throb like a heart when someone is calling, think autonomous balls that learn to bounce and steer themselves. Not that I would encourage people to look for killer apps; experiencing the beauty of the thought process and resulting work, embracing and critically absorbing it, is much more satisfying.

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