Screw meals in pill form. We'll know we're living in the future when our furniture can assemble itself at will. It's something that MIT and others are working on, and the most recent work from the university's self-assembly lab shows how far the process has come. Before you chuck that IKEA catalog, however, you should probably be aware of one small thing: the self-assembling chair you see before you is just 15cm tall. Also, it's clearly submerged in water, so it's not very practical unless you're furnishing a new condo inAtlantica.
On paper, the idea sounds reasonably simple: the six component parts are thrown into a water bath with a pair of fans in the bottom. The motions cause the pieces to interact with each other, and each one has a magnet set at a different strength that should only join with its corresponding piece. All you have to do is keep the pieces in motion long enough for physics to take its course, and you have a chair. Unfortunately, while the whole thing looks cool and quick in the video, assembly actually took seven hours.
Naturally, we're still at early days and the team at MIT are working on improving the process with more interchangeable pieces. In the meantime you can watch a group of disparate, go-it-alone types being brought together through a combination of clever science and circumstance. Come to think of it, that makes the whole thing sound a lot more like the plot of The Avengers.