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  • Translator: Joseph Geni Reviewer: Morton Bast

  • I have a friend in Portugal

  • whose grandfather built a vehicle out of a bicycle

  • and a washing machine so he could transport his family.

  • He did it because he couldn't afford a car,

  • but also because he knew how to build one.

  • There was a time when we understood how things worked

  • and how they were made, so we could build and repair them,

  • or at the very least

  • make informed decisions about what to buy.

  • Many of these do-it-yourself practices

  • were lost in the second half of the 20th century.

  • But now, the maker community and the open-source model

  • are bringing this kind of knowledge about how things work

  • and what they're made of back into our lives,

  • and I believe we need to take them to the next level,

  • to the components things are made of.

  • For the most part, we still know

  • what traditional materials like paper and textiles are made of

  • and how they are produced.

  • But now we have these amazing, futuristic composites --

  • plastics that change shape,

  • paints that conduct electricity,

  • pigments that change color, fabrics that light up.

  • Let me show you some examples.

  • So conductive ink allows us to paint circuits

  • instead of using the traditional

  • printed circuit boards or wires.

  • In the case of this little example I'm holding,

  • we used it to create a touch sensor that reacts to my skin

  • by turning on this little light.

  • Conductive ink has been used by artists,

  • but recent developments indicate that we will soon be able

  • to use it in laser printers and pens.

  • And this is a sheet of acrylic infused

  • with colorless light-diffusing particles.

  • What this means is that, while regular acrylic

  • only diffuses light around the edges,

  • this one illuminates across the entire surface

  • when I turn on the lights around it.

  • Two of the known applications for this material

  • include interior design and multi-touch systems.

  • And thermochromic pigments

  • change color at a given temperature.

  • So I'm going to place this on a hot plate

  • that is set to a temperature only slightly higher than ambient

  • and you can see what happens.

  • So one of the principle applications for this material

  • is, amongst other things, in baby bottles,

  • so it indicates when the contents are cool enough to drink.

  • So these are just a few of what are commonly known

  • as smart materials.

  • In a few years, they will be in many of the objects

  • and technologies we use on a daily basis.

  • We may not yet have the flying cars science fiction promised us,

  • but we can have walls that change color

  • depending on temperature,

  • keyboards that roll up,

  • and windows that become opaque at the flick of a switch.

  • So I'm a social scientist by training,

  • so why am I here today talking about smart materials?

  • Well first of all, because I am a maker.

  • I'm curious about how things work

  • and how they are made,

  • but also because I believe we should have a deeper understanding

  • of the components that make up our world,

  • and right now, we don't know enough about

  • these high-tech composites our future will be made of.

  • Smart materials are hard to obtain in small quantities.

  • There's barely any information available on how to use them,

  • and very little is said about how they are produced.

  • So for now, they exist mostly in this realm

  • of trade secrets and patents

  • only universities and corporations have access to.

  • So a little over three years ago, Kirsty Boyle and I

  • started a project we called Open Materials.

  • It's a website where we,

  • and anyone else who wants to join us,

  • share experiments, publish information,

  • encourage others to contribute whenever they can,

  • and aggregate resources such as research papers

  • and tutorials by other makers like ourselves.

  • We would like it to become a large,

  • collectively generated database

  • of do-it-yourself information on smart materials.

  • But why should we care

  • how smart materials work and what they are made of?

  • First of all, because we can't shape what we don't understand,

  • and what we don't understand and use

  • ends up shaping us.

  • The objects we use, the clothes we wear,

  • the houses we live in, all have a profound impact

  • on our behavior, health and quality of life.

  • So if we are to live in a world made of smart materials,

  • we should know and understand them.

  • Secondly, and just as important,

  • innovation has always been fueled by tinkerers.

  • So many times, amateurs, not experts,

  • have been the inventors and improvers

  • of things ranging from mountain bikes

  • to semiconductors, personal computers,

  • airplanes.

  • The biggest challenge is that material science is complex

  • and requires expensive equipment.

  • But that's not always the case.

  • Two scientists at University of Illinois understood this

  • when they published a paper on a simpler method

  • for making conductive ink.

  • Jordan Bunker, who had had

  • no experience with chemistry until then,

  • read this paper and reproduced the experiment

  • at his maker space using only off-the-shelf substances

  • and tools.

  • He used a toaster oven,

  • and he even made his own vortex mixer,

  • based on a tutorial by another scientist/maker.

  • Jordan then published his results online,

  • including all the things he had tried and didn't work,

  • so others could study and reproduce it.

  • So Jordan's main form of innovation

  • was to take an experiment created in a well-equipped lab

  • at the university

  • and recreate it in a garage in Chicago

  • using only cheap materials and tools he made himself.

  • And now that he published this work,

  • others can pick up where he left

  • and devise even simpler processes and improvements.

  • Another example I'd like to mention

  • is Hannah Perner-Wilson's Kit-of-No-Parts.

  • Her project's goal is to highlight

  • the expressive qualities of materials

  • while focusing on the creativity and skills of the builder.

  • Electronics kits are very powerful

  • in that they teach us how things work,

  • but the constraints inherent in their design

  • influence the way we learn.

  • So Hannah's approach, on the other hand,

  • is to formulate a series of techniques

  • for creating unusual objects

  • that free us from pre-designed constraints

  • by teaching us about the materials themselves.

  • So amongst Hannah's many impressive experiments,

  • this is one of my favorites.

  • ["Paper speakers"]

  • What we're seeing here is just a piece of paper

  • with some copper tape on it connected to an mp3 player

  • and a magnet.

  • (Music: "Happy Together")

  • So based on the research by Marcelo Coelho from MIT,

  • Hannah created a series of paper speakers

  • out of a wide range of materials

  • from simple copper tape to conductive fabric and ink.

  • Just like Jordan and so many other makers,

  • Hannah published her recipes

  • and allows anyone to copy and reproduce them.

  • But paper electronics is one of the most promising branches

  • of material science

  • in that it allows us to create cheaper and flexible electronics.

  • So Hannah's artisanal work,

  • and the fact that she shared her findings,

  • opens the doors to a series of new possibilities

  • that are both aesthetically appealing and innovative.

  • So the interesting thing about makers

  • is that we create out of passion and curiosity,

  • and we are not afraid to fail.

  • We often tackle problems from unconventional angles,

  • and, in the process, end up discovering alternatives

  • or even better ways to do things.

  • So the more people experiment with materials,

  • the more researchers are willing to share their research,

  • and manufacturers their knowledge,

  • the better chances we have to create technologies

  • that truly serve us all.

  • So I feel a bit as Ted Nelson must have

  • when, in the early 1970s, he wrote,

  • "You must understand computers now."

  • Back then, computers were these large mainframes

  • only scientists cared about,

  • and no one dreamed of even having one at home.

  • So it's a little strange that I'm standing here and saying,

  • "You must understand smart materials now."

  • Just keep in mind that acquiring preemptive knowledge

  • about emerging technologies

  • is the best way to ensure that we have a say

  • in the making of our future.

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

Translator: Joseph Geni Reviewer: Morton Bast

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B1 US TED hannah smart conductive paper jordan

【TED】Catarina Mota: Play with smart materials (Catarina Mota: Play with smart materials)

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    Zenn posted on 2017/07/16
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