Amena and I visited Target to do some research on some soft goods for inspiration. The intention of this exercise was to identify products that use soft materials to use as idea triggers for your final class project.
Since I am interested in making a soft robot with an exoskeleton to protect it from wear and tear and getting punctured or cut, I was on the lookout for similar products with a mix of hard and soft.
To be honest, I didn’t find too much variety. Most of the goods were essentially soft toys. Below I am listing down few of the things that were noticed. I might also add to this list, references found on the Internet or other sources.
1. Soft + hard shell sky projector toy
A soft elephant with a hard shell on top. Underneath the hard shell is high power LED which projects the star shaped cut outs on the shell all over the room. This inspires me to think of my retracting robot from an assembly point of view. To first cast the silicone, pack all the electronics inside it and then glue the exoskeletal parts at the end.
2. Soft toy puppy with embroidered graphics
Not much going on here. But the graphics treatment had me thinking about incorporating surface graphics and and textures in my robots. I am eager to explore combining different castings with varying colors and textures on the same robot to differentiate its various parts. I will need to first cast all the colored/textured components separately and then find a way to insert mould them into the larger and final robot body. This will add some depth to the otherwise bland looking soft robots that we normally see.
3. Suction cup balls
The classic childhood toy. The suction mechanism is very interesting when I think about it in a robotics context. Would be interesting to explore mechanisms where the suction can be introduced and taken away, in a programmed way. I think FESTO
already does that in their octopus tentacle inspired gripper.
4. Modular toy
A modular slithery toy! That actually gives me a very exciting idea of building modular blocks of soft robotic actuators to build custom robots! Much like Oscar
but without the creepiness and gross living tissues, using silicone and other inflatable materials instead. I might decide to take this as my final topic.
5. Nice texture
I like the textural quality of this product. I can imagine a wall mural with dynamic, kinetic hair like structures, each actuated individually and can be programmed to create soothing wave like patterns!
Few other products noticed..