Topobo (2004-2009)

Custom construction toy and modular robotic system with embedded kinetic memory. Thanks to MIT Media Lab for supporting the work

Topobo (2004-2009)

Topobo. Photo: Enrique Cárdenas

What is it like to sculpt with motion? Topobo, by Hayes Raffle, Amanda Parks y Hiroshi Ishii is a 3D constructive assembly system embedded with kinetic memory, the ability to record and playback physical motion. By snapping together a combination of Passive (static) and Active (motorized) components, people can quickly assemble dynamic biomorphic forms like plants, animals and skeletons with Topobo, animate those forms by pushing, pulling, and twisting them, and observe the system repeatedly play back those motions. For example, a moose can be constructed and then taught to gesture and walk by twisting its body and legs. The moose will then repeat those movements and walk repeatedly. Topobo works like an extension of the body giving one’s gestural fl uency computation and memory.

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