Scientists from Carnegie Mellon and the University of Tokyo are presenting a new composite material with self-healing properties based on lizard tails and starfish arms. MWCNTs-PBS – a composite of polyborosiloxane (PBS) and multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) – is, so to speak, the heart of the "self-healing user interface".
When the piece is cut in two and put back together, it begins to reconnect and the seam disappears, as in the following GIF.
The team created the above heart in a different scenario. In this case, an integrated sensor can recognize both when it was cut and when these parts were put back together. It gets to work when it recognizes the latter. The process is not nearly as fast as the picture suggests. However, complete healing takes about six hours.
Other proposed scenarios include robot actuators and a "transformative soft control" that works this way:
A single controller detects a finger pressure movement. Then two controllers were put together to form long touch buttons and worked as a piano keyboard. Next, two connected controllers are wrapped around the user's wrist and act as bracelet sliders. When three friends came to play a video game, the controller was cut into four parts and worked as a half-sized game device with three touch sensors. After use, the four parts can be put together to the original two controls for 6 hours.
Other hopeful scenarios are a reusable armprint that essentially forms around the damaged limb and heals itself. The team recently reported its results and plans to collaborate with scientists from other disciplines to investigate possible real-world applications for the T-1000 style.