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Watch: A sci-fi dream is coming true as scientists have finally designed shape-shifting robots

The little cube-shaped robot can put on different ‘outfits’ to walk, run, sail, and fly.


We’ve seen the Transformers films and watched in awe as the massive robots changed shapes. They may soon be reality.

MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) has designed a new shape-shifting robot that wears different origami exoskeletons, inspired by origami and butterflies. It doesn’t quite look like a Transformer, and is adorably small in size, but it could change how robots are envisioned.

As the video above shows, the cube-shaped robot dubbed Primer can put on various “outfits” made of origami-like flat sheets that fold into specific shapes and allow it to perform different tasks, like walking, rolling, sailing and gliding.

The exoskeletons are rectangular sheets made from a thermo-shrinking polymer film. When heated, they wrap themselves around the cube in a few minutes. The cube, meanwhile, is propelled by a controlled magnetic field and, like a Russian nesting doll, can wear several outfits at a time.

This new technology could lead to a whole new generation of compact, customised robots designed for a multitude of tasks.

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Bringing your parents into the digital fold can be a rewarding experience

Contrary to popular sentiment, being the tech support for your parents might be a great use of your time and theirs.

If you look up ‘Parents vs technology’, you’ll be showered with a barrage of hilariously adorable and relatable memes. Half the hilarity of these memes sprouts from their familiarity as most of us have found ourselves in similar troubleshooting situations. Helping a parent understand and operate technology can be trying. However, as you sit, exasperated, deleting the gazillion empty folders that your mum has accidentally made, you might be losing out on an opportunity to enrich her life.

After the advent of technology in our everyday personal and work lives, parents have tried to embrace the brand-new ways to work and communicate with a bit of help from us, the digital natives. And while they successfully send Whatsapp messages and make video calls, a tremendous amount of unfulfilled potential has fallen through the presumptuous gap that lies between their ambition and our understanding of their technological needs.

When Priyanka Gothi’s mother retired after 35 years of being a teacher, Priyanka decided to create a first of its kind marketplace that would leverage the experience and potential of retirees by providing them with flexible job opportunities. Her Hong Kong based novel venture, Retired, Not Out is reimagining retirement by creating a channel through which the senior generation can continue to contribute to the society.

Our belief is that tech is highly learnable. And learning doesn’t stop when you graduate from school. That is why we have designed specific programmes for seniors to embrace technology to aid their personal and professional goals.

— Priyanka Gothi, Founder & CEO, Retired Not Out

Ideas like Retired Not Out promote inclusiveness and help instil confidence in a generation that has not grown up with technology. A positive change in our parent’s lives can be created if we flip the perspective on the time spent helping them operate a laptop and view it as an exercise in empowerment. For instance, by becoming proficient in Microsoft Excel, a senior with 25 years of experience in finance, could continue to work part time as a Finance Manager. Similarly, parents can run consultation blogs or augment their hobbies and continue to lead a fulfilling and meaningful life.

Advocating the same message, Lenovo’s new web-film captures the void that retirement creates in a person’s life, one that can be filled by, as Lenovo puts it, gifting them a future.


Depending on the role technology plays, it can either leave the senior generation behind or it can enable them to lead an ambitious and productive life. This festive season, give this a thought as you spend time with family.

To make one of Lenovo’s laptops a part of the family, see here.

This article was produced on behalf of Lenovo by the marketing team and not by the editorial staff.