Currently being developed by a team of architects at the University of Toronto, it features a network of tilt sensors that allow the blanket to wirelessly transmit a 3D model of itself to a computer in real time. The blanket can also be embedded with temperature, pressure, humidity and heart rate sensors.
The team embedded 104 sensors into the blanket using a floral pattern. Each sensor is a flower, the petals of which are made of conductive fabric linked to a conductive tassel in the center of the flower by resistors. An Arduino Lilypad, which is attached to the back of the blanket, gathers up the data.
So what can the IM Blanky do, aside from recreate itself on a computer? For one thing, it can help you keep warm, as research team member Christos Marcopoulos pointed out:
You can snuggle up under your little blanky and rest assured that your environment will be optimized to your comfort levels.
In other words, when the IM Blanky detected that you were cold, it would automatically adjust your thermostat without you having to leave the comfort of your sofa.
Though today most houses don’t really have that sort of automation, Marcopoulos foresees a time where we’ll have an “Internet of things” – when most of our appliances, for example, are connected to, and can be controlled, through the Internet.
The blanket’s potential applications extend beyond keeping you comfortable during Ghost Hunters. The team points out medical uses and suggests that it could be used for monitoring health in elderly people or to detect restless sleep, which might indicate a sleeping disorder.
The team plans to continue work on the IM Blanky prototype this summer.