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Computer Runs Calculations Depending on How You Squish It

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In the future, said Ryan Harne at Pennsylvania State University, a soft computer that is integrated into a building could “decide” to repair the building after a crumbling piece of rock applies pressure to it.

Credit: Charles El Helou

Pennsylvania State University's Ryan Harne and colleagues built a soft computer from rows of rubber blocks that performs different calculations based on how it is squished.

Lines of a silver-rubber compound run through the blocks, and different block configurations operate like different circuits.

The researchers configured one version to add two numbers by squishing the component blocks to the left or to the right; a connected digital display showed the result.

They also assembled squishy computers that could multiply two numbers, or compare them to ascertain which is greater.

The University of Colorado Boulder's Ryan Hayward said this development could lead to soft robots that make decisions based on what they touch in their surroundings.

From New Scientist
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