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Origami, robotics and a new world of music

How do origami and robotics create music? The Ars Electronica Futurelab's new video presents the world of oribotic instruments.

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Origami is much more than just decorative objects. The sophisticated structures of origami elements can fulfill multiple functions, as they are highly flexible while being very sturdy. The advantages of folded paper are being used in robotics to solve a variety of problems: Tiny biomedical devices, such as an origami stent by Kaori Kuribayashi, use folding techniques, as does the giant James Webb Space Telescope.

At the Ars Electronica Futurelab, key researcher and artist Matthew Gardiner has been working on Oribotics since 2010. Here, fundamental questions of origami robotics are explored in three areas: programming, transformation and sensing. The team continues to develop computer-based origami tools and searches for new materials and manufacturing processes to make the structures more durable, predictable and repeatable. In this way, it creates “self-aware” oribotics that use sensors to connect the artwork with visualizations, sound interpretations, or activation feedback.
In 2021, the team found a particularly playful way to experiment with this sensitive sensor technology: oribotic instruments. The origins, production and individual sound design of the paper-based oribotic instruments were taught to participants in a three-day workshop, put into practice and presented as part of the festivities surrounding the 25th anniversary of the Ars Electronica Futurelab.

Want to make your own experiments with oribotic art? Follow our DIY Oribot kit. And be sure to stay tuned: We’ll continue to find new ways to combine origami, robotics and art.

Funded through the FWF Austrian Science Fund, PEEK Program