Kaleidoscope is a research project that was realised as part of the Open Thesis Fabrication at the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia. The research focused on creating a new type of adaptive window where the intelligence is embedded directly into the object, rather than being an attachment to the system.
The system is derived from mimicking the behaviour of Cephalopods, a class of marine animals commonly referred to as “inkfish”, whose skin possesses one of the most incredible camouflage reactions that exist in nature. Cephalopods can change their colours and patterns in milliseconds, whether for signalling (both within the species and for warning) or active camouflage, as their chromatophores are expanded or contracted.
Very much alike the skin of the octopus, Kaleidoscope consists of various layers of coloured dots which can change their size in response to an electrical impulse to generate shadow or create differently coloured atmospheres.
Using the materiability research network as a base of for looking into the working and making principles of electroactive polymers, in Kaleidoscope the procedure was adapted in order to develop a material that could react to an electrical field to change size, colour and opacity. The connections, the size and the separation of each dot were empirically developed and iterated various times when changing the size of the prototypes.
The final prototype was a three layered polymer based frame with a double-sided coloured gel. The patterns were applied with a 3D printing machine, generously provided by Luis Fraguada. While the project was very successful considering the short time span, it would be interesting to continue the research in a bigger scale in order to improve the application of the patterns and to see what other use scenarios could be developed.