Metamophing Computer Interfaces

Siafu is a PC designed to give people with vision loss or impairment a more intuitive computer experience. It lays flat like a tablet and allows the user to fully interact with it by way of touch. The surface utilizes a conceptual material called magneclay or magnetized liquid. This material has the ability to morph upward into any shape via a controlled electromagnetic field enabling the device to create a braille surface for reading and even pictures in 3D relief.

The technology behind Siafu – Magneclay, is an oil based synthetic agent that possesses limitless morphing capabilities. It has a loose molecular structure but can be infinitely rearranged when acted upon by electrical and magnetic charges. As long as the charges acting upon it remain stable, the magneclay will hold its structural rigidity, allowing it to be touched without deformation.

As for why the device is named after an aggressive African ant? Beats me.

Designer: Jonathan Lucas

Siafu’s magneclay surface can generate full spread braill layouts, allowing users to enjoy reading digital content in a large book style relief.

The surface of Siafu can form a working 9-button braille keyboard. The braille output allows the user to conveniently review what they just typed.

Siaufu also possesses a built-in microphone, which provides an alternative to typing. Its high performance voice recognition software allows the user to simply speak into the mic, and the words are instantly processed into on screen braille relief.

Siafu has the ability to display screen images such as web pages in a bas relief. It can even go one step further and convert all the active text on the screen into translated braille relief.

Siafu utilizes 2-D to 3-D image conversion technology to process screen images. It then generates a 3-Dimensional digital wire frame which is then process through electrical currents into the magneclay. The end result is a highly accurate 3-Dimensional representation of the image.

121 Comments

  • Nacon says:

    Finally! A true creative idea came around for once! But will it work?

  • wow- truly functional and great looking.

  • Unknown says:

    This is a concept that can truly provide an entirely new dimension of information, communication and tactile visual imagery for a class of people that for the most part have single dimention comunication and imagery expression.

  • gregorium says:

    merci pour cette idée superbe, utilisant la technologie pour ouvrir un nouveau monde numerique aux aveugles.

  • Jessica says:

    Hi, I’d like to know if this object is selling anywhere? Can I buy it? How much does it cost?
    Thanks,
    Jessica

  • will it be available in the markets soon?

    and is it really capable in remodelling in whatever form appearing on the screen?

    how does its texture look like?

    for me it seems amazing.. but.. its availability to public is the most important..

  • Hi everybody, I’m thrilled that so many of you are so excited about my Siafu concept. At the current moment, it is still a concept. Fortunately, Siafu has been selected to be one of the finalists in Microsoft’s Next Generation PC Competition. So if you’d like to show your support for this idea, then please go to nextgendesigncomp.com

    From there, click “Vote For Your Favorite Design” and then scroll down and click on the Siafu entry. From there you just click “Vote for this Entry, and that’s it!

    It would be really awesome to see this idea brought to fruition. I know that if it’s in God’s will, something will come of this. So regardless of the outcome, I just feel very blessed to have the opportunity to share my ideas with the world. So thanks and glory be to Jesus, and also, thank you Yanko Design for featuring my concept on your site. Siafu is spreading across the web like wildfire, it’s insane!

    And to answer your question Long Tran, it’s named after the “aggressive African ant” known as Siafu, because they are totally blind, but manage to navigate through the world relying on touch, smell, and chemical signals, among other things.

    Thanks again everybody. I’m really enjoying all the comments. The positive ones are very encouraging, I love it, and the negative ones are hilarious : D

    • Kevin Lee says:

      WOW! Congratulations! I really wanna see this fantastico(!) idea to be realized! By the way… Is the Mangeclay real technology? Or just an imagination?

      • Thank you Mr. Lee for your kind words. Magneclay (or at least the word) was spawn from my good old imagination. Maybe some day it will be real. CALLING ALL physicists, scientists, and chemical engineers; you must usher in a new day with the creation of Magneclay…

        • Dr. B Hat says:

          It seems what you desire is a ferrofluid with high viscosity and low surface tension.

          A ferrofluid is a suspension of ferromagnetic particles which behaves much as you describe your “magneclay”, form-able into shapes with magnetic fields.

          (The current form of the stuff is rather messy, however, and some sort of surface film would be needed to contain the fluid and allow touch.) With a proper ferrofluid formulation, your concept can be fully realizable.

          Check chemistry literature for the hard details, or just search for “ferofluid” at youtube.com to see the stuff in action.

  • Rony John says:

    Atlast, there is something that we can offer to the blind…

  • Bucket says:

    Hey as long as we’re making “inventions” using technology that doesn’t even exist why not just have the computer beam the information to the blind person’s visual cortex using the soon to be developed “Psychic-Display” technology. Or better yet, just wish into existence a cure for blindness.

    This is ridiculous.

    • Hello Bucket. And thank you for your comment. I was laughing out loud when I read it (I’m being serious, it was funny). Anyway, I totally understand where you’re coming from with your statement. It’s true that Magneclay is a conceptual material, but it’s based off of substances known as ferrofluids. Ferrofluids can morph into different shapes when acted upon by magnetic impulses. Ferrofluids fall short of one physiological attribute that Magneclay possesses, and that is the ability to solidify once a form is generated. If you’re interested (and for anybody else who is interested), I posted a link to some ferrofluid videos that are definitely worth checking out.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zpBxCnHU8Ao
      YouTube – Ferrofluid

      And lastly, my good friend Bucket, design should never be limited to existing and current technologies. If that was the case, innovations and advancements in technology would never occur. Tons of products that exist today such as cellphones, televisions, video cameras, etc., were all once concepts that were proposed by people long before the technology ever actually existed to create it.

      There is a desire and a will inside inventors and designers to develop and create products, ideas, and technologies that aren’t out there in the world today. Siafu, along with many other design concepts, fall into this category.

      I hope you understand what I’m saying Bucket. Thanks again for the comment, I needed a good laugh…

      • Bucket says:

        Yes, I’m familiar with ferrofluids, I bought a bottle about a year ago, fun stuff! However you’re going to have more trouble than simply making ferrofluid into a non-newtonian fluid (which is a better idea than clay because the response time would be faster). First you’ll have to overcome the huge problem with manipulating magnetic fields in the complex (if not impossible) way you’re hoping to do (not to mention passing FCC standards!). How about you make a proof of concept using plain old ferrofluid? Yeah, I didn’t think so. My point being this isn’t a “concept device” it’s science fiction if not outright fantasy. If you want to enter an “invention” into the Microsoft contest I say go with the “Psychic-Display” idea, it’s ok good friend, you can have it. Don’t limit yourself just because it seems very, very silly. Just make up some fancy pictures in a 3D app and you’ll be right where you are with this Siafu idea. Get this, I’ve even thought up a catchy name for you with a back story. You can call it Yahweh, because it uses telepathy and is totally imaginary! It’s one of those obscure names too where some people will have to Google it to get the joke. Oh man you’re right I am funny, I know I’m laughing out loud right now too! Good luck with that one.

        • Jason says:

          Hey Bucket…

          I can think of a perfect example of what your trying to get at.

          Jules Verne – He thought up something that was not even a near possibility at the time for a fiction book…and yet now it is fact. The Submarine.

          Why don’t you try expanding your mind by looking up and reading about one of the oldest debate topics of all time. Imagination is the Mother of Invention.

          Once you get your mind around both sides of that argument, maybe you will realise what the whole point of this exercise is instead of putting other peoples ideas down.

          Expand your mind because at the moment, you sound like an idiot.

          If our scientists were like you and waited for an almost completed invention to be handed to them, then we would still be in the dark ages.

          Imagination creates ideas. Ideas create challenges. Challenges create rivals and competition, and this in turn gets results.

          Just my 2 cents.

          Jonathan, brilliant concept. I look forward to seeing the many ideas that this generates over the coming years.

      • ProWrestlin says:

        I'd imagine you could make this concept a reality with some financial backing. You wouldn't necessarily need ferrofluids , you could just use a network of tiny metal pins that could conform to the 3D shapes your concept requires. Not as flashy by a long shot, but these people are blind after all. I'm high so perhaps this idea is stupid to someone in a more rational state of mind.

  • Domingo M says:

    Hazlo, por favor!
    Make it, please!
    You have all my help and support, if I’m able to do something
    Good luck !

    • Coppone says:

      I can help, I expert in tecnolgy computer, I can develop this tecnolgy?

      Entendo que posso esse projeto, já tenho vários caminhos para fazê-lo.

      Belo Horizonte- Brasil

  • Such cases are shockingly! It is surprising! In Russia, It is magnificent and incredibly! New technologies over most popular!
    Please let me place Russian translation of a small fragment of your text about Heathrow with the link to the original page at your web-site To be or to not be in what a question?

  • Such cases are shockingly! It is surprising! In Russia, It is magnificent and incredibly! New technologies over most popular!

    Please let me place Russian translation of a small fragment of your text about Heathrow with the link to the original page at your web-site To be or to not be in what a question?

  • dika says:

    maybe this device right now “just” concept, try to think it with the material exist right now and try to simplify the concept. Great invention comes from idea and concept, the things is, light bulb would never exist if Thomas Alfa Edison idea and concept still in his head and never try to create. Obstacle, criticism also negative response is always there, but the spirit to invent and create must be strong.

    the idea and concept I think still need to improve, but it’s great one. Keep working on it. 😀

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  • Peter says:

    Couldn’t you use a mesh of tiny square metal pins, which could either be up or down, much like a black and white pixel could be on or off back in the old days. Why not use the same concept as those things you can currently buy which you can press against your hand or face and they leave an impression? In theory, surely, this could be possible now.

  • rodrigo mnes says:

    congratulations sent from mexico, really nice concept, i hope we can see it in the market.

  • Very good concept and i hope this will give a new concept to this field.

  • Very good concept and i hope this will give a new concept to this field.

  • Politics says:

    Good thinking and also create designs, Thanks for these designs and i hope it will continue.

  • student aid says:

    These interfaces are really cool.

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  • tassa says:

    Hello, Jonathan Lucas. Your design is very interesting and helpful for people who can not see.(hopefully can be made) I was wondering if when you are designing the products that you do research about people who can not see. If so research like what is being done?

  • cool gadgets says:

    I really enjoyed reading your article, because it is very useful for me especially in finishing my studies. Looks like I have the same views with you.

  • mobil bekas says:

    Nice info, useful for my job.. thanks for share sir..

  • mobil bekas says:

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  • victor_lekweuwa says:

    I am sure that researching how to control the magnetic field effect to produce the preferred 3d shapes would be the next step. I would love to see the research on that.

    The first idea of a telephone was connecting boxes by a rope so you could hear someone in a nearby room. Now with satellites and radio frequencies, we don't need ropes and short distances. I hope controlling the magnetic field effect doesn't prove impossible. If you are in college, this would be a great idea for a senior thesis. Good luck.

  • victor_lekweuwa says:

    I am sure that researching how to control the magnetic field effect to produce the preferred 3d shapes would be the next step. I would love to see the research on that.

    The first idea of a telephone was connecting boxes by a rope so you could hear someone in a nearby room. Now with satellites and radio frequencies, we don't need ropes and short distances. I hope controlling the magnetic field effect doesn't prove impossible. If you are in college, this would be a great idea for a senior thesis. Good luck.

  • just thinking says:

    hmmm well its a really good idea but im gonna be "that guy" and bring up the idea, what happens if you go on a porn website? ha i mean kinda a wierd though

  • just thinking says:

    hmmm well its a really good idea but im gonna be “that guy” and bring up the idea, what happens if you go on a porn website? ha i mean kinda a wierd though

  • Redman says:

    …..This was a huge letdown. I thought this was an actual thing, but it's just some completely made-up (by you) imaginative concept. Jesus.

    • anon says:

      This is a concept design website. Get used to that "letdown" feeling, you'll get it a lot in life if you don't bother to read anything.

  • Redman says:

    …..This was a huge letdown. I thought this was an actual thing, but it's just some completely made-up (by you) imaginative concept. Jesus.

    • anon says:

      This is a concept design website. Get used to that “letdown” feeling, you'll get it a lot in life if you don't bother to read anything.

  • Mike says:

    cocept is just great.

  • Mike says:

    cocept is just great.

  • Max says:

    Was it designed by klingons?

  • Max says:

    Was it designed by klingons?

  • Guy says:

    This isn’t so much of a “concept” as it is a wish. A design concept generally has something supporting the feasibility of the idea. Yes, ferrofluids exist, but you seem to have a tenuous grasp of how magnets work. Even if you had a grid of electromagnets varying in strength on the fly, you wouldn’t be able to achieve anywhere near the type of resolution required for something like this. Even if that were possible, there’s that whole other obstacle of toggling a state of solidity in the fluid at will.

    My basic point is, you shouldn’t throw around radical concepts in fields you have little understanding of. Sure, imagination is the mother of invention, but just hoping some physicist will ride in on a steed with some magical mathematics shows nothing but a lack of imagination and/or knowledge.

  • Guy says:

    This isn’t so much of a “concept” as it is a wish. A design concept generally has something supporting the feasibility of the idea. Yes, ferrofluids exist, but you seem to have a tenuous grasp of how magnets work. Even if you had a grid of electromagnets varying in strength on the fly, you wouldn’t be able to achieve anywhere near the type of resolution required for something like this. Even if that were possible, there’s that whole other obstacle of toggling a state of solidity in the fluid at will.

    My basic point is, you shouldn’t throw around radical concepts in fields you have little understanding of. Sure, imagination is the mother of invention, but just hoping some physicist will ride in on a steed with some magical mathematics shows nothing but a lack of imagination and/or knowledge.

  • sue says:

    I was wondering instead of using ferrofluids with all the drawbacks everybody is pointing at, cant small raised pin be used. The surface would be covered with tiny pins heads (like pixels a bit i guess and then the necessary pins could be raised (perhaps even raised by variable lengths) to provide the desired tactile sensation???

  • sue says:

    I was wondering instead of using ferrofluids with all the drawbacks everybody is pointing at, cant small raised pin be used. The surface would be covered with tiny pins heads (like pixels a bit i guess and then the necessary pins could be raised (perhaps even raised by variable lengths) to provide the desired tactile sensation???

  • Dan says:

    It sounds cool but why does it go into such depth as to "what it does" when it doesn't exist. Half of what is written here is just going on and on about what it would be be able to do if you could make it do anything imaginable. In short, saying "I have a concept for a pad that can make tactile images for blind people to use" is a reasonable thing to say but going on and on about how it will have awesome 2d to 3d rendering and being able to convert from text to braille just doesn't make sense to me unless you have access to or have developed this technology yourself. The submarine was not inspired by books… it may have been imagined long before its time but its not like someone was reading that book and said "I'm going to build that". This concept has no scientific information and is akin to me saying I'm going to make a computer that monitors your brain waves and it will react in .00001 nanoseconds and will be very cheap and affordable. It will be able to like to your brain and use your brain waves as a password and through this we will be able to use all of the appliances in our house with our brains. You will be able to close your eyes and the picture you think of will appear on the screen instantly etc…

    It's cool to imagine and helpful too but when you start getting into little details of the programming before you have a proof of concept you're just wasting peoples time about what you wish your imaginary device can do.

  • Dan says:

    It sounds cool but why does it go into such depth as to “what it does” when it doesn't exist. Half of what is written here is just going on and on about what it would be be able to do if you could make it do anything imaginable. In short, saying “I have a concept for a pad that can make tactile images for blind people to use” is a reasonable thing to say but going on and on about how it will have awesome 2d to 3d rendering and being able to convert from text to braille just doesn't make sense to me unless you have access to or have developed this technology yourself. The submarine was not inspired by books… it may have been imagined long before its time but its not like someone was reading that book and said “I'm going to build that”. This concept has no scientific information and is akin to me saying I'm going to make a computer that monitors your brain waves and it will react in .00001 nanoseconds and will be very cheap and affordable. It will be able to like to your brain and use your brain waves as a password and through this we will be able to use all of the appliances in our house with our brains. You will be able to close your eyes and the picture you think of will appear on the screen instantly etc…

    It's cool to imagine and helpful too but when you start getting into little details of the programming before you have a proof of concept you're just wasting peoples time about what you wish your imaginary device can do.

  • Dan says:

    To Jason:

    Like I said in my earlier post the submarine was in a book but was not invented because of that book. Scientists may not wait for a completed version but before they waste there time on details of something they make a proof of concept meaning they make sure the basics behind what they are trying to build are actually possible because any remotely intelligent person knows its stupid to start adding or talking about adding bells and whistles to your new boat before you know if it can even float because if it sinks you just wasted a lot of time and money on bells and whistles.

    • Nemo says:

      Also, if this Jason is referring to the Nautilus of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea his example is invalid because the Nautilus is named after a submarine that was actually made in 1800, and there are other instances of submarines in the past. One a few years before the book, is the Confederate submarine the H. L. Hunley.

      Obviously the Nautilus is more advanced and it doesn't necessarily invalidate the argument but it's not even a good argument to make. This designer with all of his imagination, for whatever that is worth, is waiting for those with the actual technical know how to realize his creation, how impotent is that? It's not as if he's selling this as some great fiction classic, it is a design referred to in the present tense as if it were now very real.

  • Dan says:

    To Jason:

    Like I said in my earlier post the submarine was in a book but was not invented because of that book. Scientists may not wait for a completed version but before they waste there time on details of something they make a proof of concept meaning they make sure the basics behind what they are trying to build are actually possible because any remotely intelligent person knows its stupid to start adding or talking about adding bells and whistles to your new boat before you know if it can even float because if it sinks you just wasted a lot of time and money on bells and whistles.

    • Nemo says:

      Also, if this Jason is referring to the Nautilus of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea his example is invalid because the Nautilus is named after a submarine that was actually made in 1800, and there are other instances of submarines in the past. One a few years before the book, is the Confederate submarine the H. L. Hunley.

      Obviously the Nautilus is more advanced and it doesn't necessarily invalidate the argument but it's not even a good argument to make. This designer with all of his imagination, for whatever that is worth, is waiting for those with the actual technical know how to realize his creation, how impotent is that? It's not as if he's selling this as some great fiction classic, it is a design referred to in the present tense as if it were now very real.

  • Dan says:

    Also you should try wording things in a proof of concept in future tense not present tense because you now have a hoard of dumb people who think this thing already exists. You really can't say

    "Siafu has the ability to display screen images such as web pages in a bas relief. It can even go one step further and convert all the active text on the screen into translated braille relief."

    or

    "Siaufu also possesses a built-in microphone, which provides an alternative to typing. Its high performance voice recognition software allows the user to simply speak into the mic, and the words are instantly processed into on screen braille relief."

    or

    "Siafu has the ability to display screen images such as web pages in a bas relief. It can even go one step further and convert all the active text on the screen into translated braille relief."

    because SIAFU DOESN"T EXIST! How can it DO all of these things when it doesn't exist? Try saying Siafu WILL BE ABLE TO … not Siafu can_______ because it's extremely misleading the way you have written it.

  • Dan says:

    Also you should try wording things in a proof of concept in future tense not present tense because you now have a hoard of dumb people who think this thing already exists. You really can't say

    “Siafu has the ability to display screen images such as web pages in a bas relief. It can even go one step further and convert all the active text on the screen into translated braille relief.”

    or

    “Siaufu also possesses a built-in microphone, which provides an alternative to typing. Its high performance voice recognition software allows the user to simply speak into the mic, and the words are instantly processed into on screen braille relief.”

    or

    “Siafu has the ability to display screen images such as web pages in a bas relief. It can even go one step further and convert all the active text on the screen into translated braille relief.”

    because SIAFU DOESN”T EXIST! How can it DO all of these things when it doesn't exist? Try saying Siafu WILL BE ABLE TO … not Siafu can_______ because it's extremely misleading the way you have written it.

  • Dan says:

    Sorry I wrote "proof of concept" in my previous post and I should have said "concept". There is no proof here just one idea and a lot of fantasy.

  • Dan says:

    Sorry I wrote “proof of concept” in my previous post and I should have said “concept”. There is no proof here just one idea and a lot of fantasy.

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  • yementech says:

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