Dan Preston, Rice University mechanical engineer, has created a 'soft robot' you can wear - a shiny black jacket that can raise and lower its own hood at the push of a button. A simple 1-bit memory stores the state of the hood. It’s “a non-electronic durable logic in a textile-based device.” Preston's team cut commercial nylon taffeta fabric, glued the pieces together to form inflatable pouches about half the size of a business card, connected them with small soft tubes, and embedded them into the jacket. Pressing buttons on the jacket controls the flow of air from a canister of carbon dioxide through the pouches. The pouches fold and unfold to form kinks that either inflate or deflate an airbag in the hood to make it rise and fall. In future, Preston’s team plans to do away with the carbon dioxide canister, and just use ambient air to pump up the jacket.

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