Wired published an article today about r&d efforts at MIT on Self Assembling materials . The carbon filler material folds and bends when exposed to moisture and can assemble itself to predetermined shapes.
In his 2005 book Shaping Things, Bruce Sterling writes extensibly about "Spimes" which he characterizes them as:
Sterling argues the Spime started when RFID's were added to military supplies thus elevating the thing to a data carrying, enabling and affecting mechanism with characteristics beyond their materiality.
And, as I've said to my students numerous times, the really interesting stuff, the stuff beyond the mundane universe of mobile apps and even the burgeoning IoT (Internet of Things) is this other realm where raw material itself is harnessed by technology to give us entirely different sets of possible scenarios of interactivity.
An applicable quote from the Wired article:
“I think the biggest barrier is a super outdated mentality of what robots are,” he says. That said, the designer has been able to convince some forward-looking companies, including Carbitex, Autodesk, Airbus, and Briggs Automotive Company, to experiment with his materials and help fund their development.
“We can listen to materials and use them as a programmable material. We can program biology,” he says. “Computing isn’t in computers anymore; computing is everything.”
Without a doubt, this is the beginning of very exciting things, but the question remains as it does with every evolution of technology: If you can make the future, what do you want that future to be?