IM BLANKY, from a group of architects at the University of Toronto, is both blanket and input device. Its surface is decorated with a network of interconnected sensors and microcontrollers that is both functional and beautiful.
Each sensor consists of a six-lobed “flower” with a conductive tassel in the center. The tassel is loose, and its orientation with respect to gravity influences which of the petals it falls on. This action closes a circuit, and the software can thus infer something about the slope of the blanket at each sensor, which gives some information about its overall shape.
Also, of course, about the shape of any object the blanket is draped over, which presents an interesting idea: Can we make useful 3D models this way?
As with most experimental devices, there are many caveats and open questions. First, though I may have missed something, it seems that simply knowing the orientations of each sensor with respect to gravity is not sufficient to infer the blanket’s overall shape—you also have to know something about the displacement of each sensor with respect to some reference position. The prototype has only 104 sensors over its 8′ x 4′ area, which is very low resolution for modeling purposes. I’d love to see some sample output, but it may be telling that none has been posted.
Nonetheless, some great-outside-the-box thinking, and an unusually beautiful prototype. [via Hack a Day]