Imagine a world where you’d never have to try to decode one of those Ikea or Argos self-assembly instruction sheets ever again. (“Is this diagram upside down?”) Where furniture doesn’t need you to make it because it can be shipped flat and then pull itself together. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?
Well, keep dreaming, because it’s still a long way off. But, as Gizmodo reports, the good people at Wired got a close-up look at a development from Skylar Tibbits and his team at MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab that’s bringing us one step closer. They’ve made a small chair that assembles itself.
The downsides are that it needs to be placed in water, takes seven hours to complete the process, and the resulting chair is really small: just 15 cm. But it works, and you even can see video proof (don’t worry, they’ve speeded it up).
It’s based on magnets, with the water agitating each piece of the chair until they grab hold of each other. The pieces are designed so their magnets can only fit together in a certain way, to make sure it doesn’t come together any old how, which explains why it takes so long.
Of course, if one day we won’t need humans to make stuff, that has some potentially worrying implications for people in the manufacturing industry, considering that’s their job. On the plus side, they’ll never have to try to decode one of those Ikea or Argos self-assembly instruction sheets ever again.