MIT’s shape-shifting noodles amuse diners, could revolutionize packaging

Engineers in MIT’s Tangible Media Group have created noodles that change shape when dunked in water. It might seem like a silly creation of idle minds but the researchers think their product could have real-world value, from decreasing shipping costs to thrilling diners.

Science fiction often inspires science and the case of the shape-shifting noodles is a prime example. “I got inspired by a movie,” Wen Wang, one of the researchers who developed the noodles, told Digital Trends. Wang had just watched Star Wars: The Force Awakens and had a sort of epiphany watching the scene where Rey turns powder and water into bread. “I wondered if it is possible to make a shape changing food through manipulating a foods water adsorption ability,” she said.

Wang teamed up with a colleague, Lining Yao, to develop flat sheets of starch and gelatin, giving them a special structure that allows them to take shape only when dunked in water. They were assisted by graduate students, Teng Zhang and Chin-Yi Cheng who developed a simulation platform that allows consumers to design their own pasta shapes.

Once dunked, the shape-shifting noodles may take many forms — from standard pasta shapes to flowers and horse saddles. Wang and Yao challenged a professional kitchen in Boston to cook and serve up their creations. The collaboration lead to some delicious dishes, like caviar wrapped in plankton and squid ink-flavored noodles.

The shape-shifting noodles may be fun to cook, but their more practical application could be in saving space and shipping costs.

“We found that lots of processed food, such as pasta, contains air in the package,” Wang said. “The 2D food reported in this project can be packed flat, so shipping costs will be saved. The transformation process from 2D to 3D will also provide the diners with great cooking and eating experience.”

Wang and his team presented a paper detailing the work was published this week at the Association for Computing Machinery’s 2017 Computer-Human Interaction Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robo sidekicks, AC for your bed, and more

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the Web this week. You can't buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

From Rolls-Royce to Lamborghini, these are the most expensive cars in the world

If you recently discovered an oil reserve in your backyard, you probably have some extra cash to spend. Look no further, because we’ve rounded up the most expensive cars in the world.
Emerging Tech

These yeast colony patches are like living Geiger counters

A team of researchers from Purdue University have designed a patch that can help measure radiation exposure in nearly real time. They're simple, made out of little more than paper and yeast, and cost pennies on the dollar.
Emerging Tech

U.S. Navy wants to ‘weaponize slime’ to stop enemy ships

Researchers at Utah State University have been awarded a U.S. Navy contract to create synthetic weaponized slime, which could be used to fire at enemy vessels to stop them in their tracks.
Emerging Tech

Cotton and corn! Reebok’s newest sneaker is ‘made from things that grow’

Keen to move away from using oil-based materials to make its footwear, Reebok has turned to cotton and corn for its latest sneaker. No dyes have been used to color the shoes, either, and the packaging is 100 percent recyclable.

Apple AR glasses will launch in 2020, says respected industry analyst

Apple AR glasses may be closer to reality than we thought. Here is everything we know so far about the augmented reality system, including the rumored specifications of Apple's Project Mirrorshades.
Emerging Tech

A new way to ‘freeze’ water could help transform organ preservation

Scientists from Massachusetts General Hospital have developed a way of keeping water as a liquid at temperatures far below freezing. Here's why that could help transform organ preservation.
Emerging Tech

Meet the Mantis Q: A drone you can control by yelling, waving, or even smiling

"Mantis, take a picture." Yuneec's new consumer drone, the Yuneec Mantis Q, responds to voice commands along with gestures and smiles. The 4K drone also integrates several different flight modes and safety features inside a one-pound…
Emerging Tech

This robot arm could soon recharge your electric car, no driver effort required

Researchers in Austria have developed a smart robotic charger that can automatically plug itself into any electric vehicle, no driver effort required whatsoever. What could be simpler?
Emerging Tech

Police body cams are scarily easy to hack into and manipulate, researcher finds

Nuix cybersecurity expert Josh Mitchell has demonstrated how it is possible to hack into and potentially manipulate footage from police body cams. The really scary part? It's shockingly easy.
Emerging Tech

Scientists try to trick brains of amputees with phantom limb syndrome

New research might help some amputees better mesh what they see with what they feel. In a recently published paper, researchers show how an amputee’s brain can be tricked into believing a prosthetic hand belongs to their own body.
Emerging Tech

Los Angeles subway to become first in the U.S. to use body scanners

Los Angeles is set to become the first city in the U.S. to use body scanners on its subway. The machines are portable and quick to set up, and can check around 2,000 people an hour without causing lines or delays for passengers.
Emerging Tech

Sick of walking everywhere? Here are the best electric skateboards you can buy

Thanks for Kickstarter and Indiegogo, electric skateboards are carving a bigger niche than you might think. Whether you're into speed, mileage, or something a bit more stylish, here are the best electric skateboards on the market.

How to connect a Nintendo Switch controller to your PC

Nintendo's Switch controllers, including the Joy-Cons and the aptly titled Pro Controller, use Bluetooth, which makes them compatible with your PC. Here's how to start using them for PC gaming.