Super Cilia Skin

March 7, 2009
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Silicone-based interactive membrane

Mitchell Joachim, Hayes Raffle, and James Tichenor designed Super Cilia Skin (SCS) in 2002. SCS is a tactile and visual system inspired by the beauty of grass blowing in the wind. It consists of an array of computer-controlled actuators (cilia) that are anchored to an elastic membrane. These actuators represent information by changing their physical orientation. The current prototype of SCS, developed by MIT’s Tangible Media Group, functions as an output device capable of visual and tactile expression.

Most existing computational tools rely on visual output devices. While such devices are invaluable, influential studies in neurophysiology have shown that physical experience creates especially strong neural pathways in the brain. When people use SCS and participate in both visual and tactile/ kinesthetic activity, the two hemispheres of the brain are simultaneously engaged. A multimodal learning experience helps assure that new information will be retained in long-term memory.

On an architectural scale, a facade covered with SCS can represent the “wake” of a local wind pattern billowing up and down the surface during the day and generating energy. As a general display surface, a Super Cilia Skinned floor can trace movement over one’s house or weather patterns over the entire state of Massachusetts. This sensibility is intended to pervade a sense of relationships between local and global conditions.

Contact: MIT Tangible Media Group, Cambridge, MA, USA.

For more information, see Transmaterial 2: A Catalog of Materials That Redefine our Physical Environment

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