‘molebot’ by design media lab all images courtesy of design media lab

‘molebot’, a robotic creature based on an organic user interface (oui), develop by koren company design media lab. the product was recently on show at laval virtual the european event for virtual reality & converging technology held in france. the object lives in a coffee table and interacts with small items placed on top of the surface. to ensure fluid motions of the molehills cast by the ‘molebot’, the table combines horizontal rigidity with the vertical flexibility of movable pins. users are enabled to interact kinetically with this creature by using a joystick or gestural commands via kinecttm. when implementing the concept of ‘a mole living inside a table’, the firm used a combination of high actuation speed with greater resolution and smaller sized of physical pixels to focus on enhancing physical interactivity with objects on the horizontal space.

such goals were met effectively with the implementation of a new shape display combining a two-dimensionally translating mole cam with more than 15,000 close-packed hexagonal pins and cam followers, as well as a layer of spandex between the mole cam and the pins to reduce friction. the ‘molebot’ can interact with physical objects in two different ways. it can either push around any object via the kinetic energy from the mole cam, or pull in ferromagnetic objects with a neodymium magnet inside the cam. the ‘molebot’ is intended to be an oui-based game platform, rather than a general shape display. thus, people can build a small world, similar to that of a game board, on top of the table by replacing hexagonal pins with different types of small props or any other personal belongings, and enjoy playful physical interactions between the ‘molebot’ and real-world objects through the use of a joystick.

observational studies revealed that, thanks to its exceptionally fluid movements, the users, despite manually controlling it, viewed the ‘molebot’ as a living creature. in consequence, the autonomy of the ‘molebot’ has been expanded, so that users can interact with it through simple hand gestures and/or small objects placed on the table.

design media lab: molebot ‘molebot’ and apple trees

design media lab: molebot ‘molebot’ fighting against a tiny robot on the table

design media lab: molebot interactive small objects for game

design media lab: molebot inside of the molebot


design media lab: molebot hexagonal maze game

product info:

english: http://www.innovationnewsdaily.com/1036-molebot-lives-coffee-table-plays-games.html french:http://www.01net.com/editorial/563132/des-technos-virtuelles-pour-les-grands-enfants/ korean:http://www.ytn.co.kr/theme/theme_news_view.php?tcd1=10&tidx=350&key=201204210008207959 http://news.kbs.co.kr/science/2012/04/17/2464152.html

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