MIT Media Lab's Tangible Media Group has created a system to fold materials into various origami shapes when inflated, turning specifically designed paper, plastic, and fabric into representations of swans, helixes, or other 3D figures with minimal human interaction. The project, aeroMorph, utilizes special software to program the geometry needed for each three-dimensional shape and exports the information as digital fabrication files. After this, specific markings are heat-sealed onto the provided material on a large robotic platform, allowing it to bend at specific joints when filled with a steady stream of air.
The creators believe aeroMorph could be applied to future wearables, toys, robotics, and automated packaging. You can see the results from several of the project’s self-folding experiments in the video below. (via Laughing Squid)