TEDxHelvetia, which took place at the Rolex Learning Center in Switzerland, featured two EPFL professors in the rising fields of soft robotics and stretchable electronics.
Jamie Paik describes origami robots and their ability to fold into a variety of shapes. The concept, originally designed at the Wyss Institute at Harvard and at MIT, enables a new type of programmable matter whose properties can be programmed to achieve specific shapes or stiffnesses on command. Such soft robots have gathered attention in recent years for their potential to shift the mindset from rigid robot bodies made of metal, screws and bolts to robots with deformable and compliant bodies, which like most biological systems contain many degrees of freedom.
Stéphanie Lacour was selected as Technology Review’s annual list of 35 Innovators under 35 for her work on the development of semiconductor devices that can stretch and still retain their electronic properties. Such materials could be used in the future to create artificial skin that interfaces with the nervous system of a patient to feed control signals to prosthetics or for the design of flexible electronic circuits for soft robots.