A single robotic worm could replace dozens of pieces of tech

But looking at it makes us think "that's not okay."

If someone told you you could get a device that would act as your phone, your watch, your reading light, a charging cable and more, you’d probably jump at the chance to take it, right?

Well, once you’ve seen the Lineform, you might be a little less eager. Lineform is essentially a spandex-covered line of dozens of small self-contained electric devices controlled by an Arduino Mega microcontroller board and embedded with touch sensors. The ideas and technology behind this device are detailed in a new paper by MIT Tangible Media Group’s Ken Nakagaki and Sean Follmer, along with the group’s director, Hiroshi Ishii. Largely, what they wanted to do was to try and replace dozens of electronic devices we use in our everyday lives with just one. And so they came up with the Lineform, which can transform its form and function to do whatever you need in a matter of moments.

In theory, Lineform could wrap around your wrist like a smartwatch and alert you by tapping your wrist; it could curve itself into the shape of a phone you can actually speak into; with a plug-in lightbulb it could perch beside you and become your reading light; and with a flexible display it could become your new super-smartphone. The possibilities are apparently endless.

It’s a wonderful idea and for a basic model, the Lineform Tangible Media are showing is remarkably advanced; robotics is obviously progressing in leaps and bounds. We just have one reservation – it’s really creepy. The Lineform looks disturbingly lumpy (it might actually be better if they just removed the spandex) and when it moves it’s unsettlingly quick and deliberate.

When you look at the Lineform in action, you’re less inclined to think that it’s trying to lessen the amount of tech you have to interact with on a daily basis, and more inclined to think that it’s slowly trying to reduce your reliance on other tech to increase your dependency on it and get close enough to wrap itself round your neck while you sleep. Its plan all along was to enslave humanity and create a Lineform-controlled world. The paper does say that “whole body motion can be constrained by wrapping the actuated curve interface around limbs or joints like bandages so that it acts as an exoskeleton.” I mean come on. And if you have a less dystopian thought process, at the very least it makes you think “I’ve seen enough Hentai…”


Main image via Tangible Media