What could text information look like as a physical object? Can text information simultaneously communicate data while containing esthetics? To find out the answers, the ANA group, led by Janos Stone, has started the ANA project, an exploration into storing information, typed alphanumeric text, as physical 3D printed objects.
Working with Northeastern University he ANA group developed a working algorithmic model by early 2013. Using this model the team is able to interpret data they receive, currently only email address, and transform them into 3D printable objects.
Thus the project was named ANA, the Alphanumeric Avatar. Currently it is possible to create a single print containing up to 36 characters. Each of the letter of the alphabet, as well as numbers zero through nine, have a unique color and shape combination.
For example the color of your shape indicates which of the nine starting colors it belongs to:
To learn how it works, check out the Key here.
The team developed an interactive web page driven by an algorithmic engine that transforms typed texts into 3D printable objects. You can try it here.
The foundational idea for ANA was created in 2008 by Janos Stone, while developing his easy-to-learn 3D design app Mecube. Mecube is a voxel based 3D modeling tool that lets users create their own 3D model like playing with Lego blocks.
The success of this 3D printed email address is leading to more complex algorithms for larger datasets, write the group. "This new work points to possible discoveries in; Data Storage, Cryptography, Content Driven Object Esthetics, Alternative Communication (vision impaired, developmentally impaired, etc) to mention a few."
Stone plans to miniaturize this techniques to the nano scale so that data can be stored as an object and printed out on the the surface of a cup or a toy. He envisions a future that everyone could create their own visible expressions from these "invisible" data.
Posted in 3D Printing Applications
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