Magic Balls, or Dragon Eggs, are one of the patterns I am exploring as a shape-changing interface. They are interesting as they can along their height, width and volume. They can be squished down to nearly flat, while widening at the base, or they can be stretched out to be taller and thinner. Both actions results in the ball’s volume decreasing. Below is a video of the ball being manipulated, as well as a Youtube tutorial of how to make them.
Currently, I am exploring the idea of installing a stepper motor in side the ball with extending arms connected to the interior of the ball, so that it’s expansion and shrinking can be controlled via an Arduino board. I have scavanged an old stepper motor from a CD-ROM drive, and am planning to conduct some technical tests with it over the next week.
Issues with Material
Issues I am concerned about is the weight of the electrical components inside in the ball being too great, causing it to warp. Additonally, paper is not a robust material, and would not last very long in a classroom setting. I am exploring two options to counteract these issues – first, once-off origami interfaces designed by the students, and second, origami made from more robust materials. It is too early yet to say what the benefits or drawbacks of either option might be, but they will be investigated alongside the other elements of the origami design.