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Imagine bringing home a piece of “some-assembly-required” furniture from IKEA and discovering, to your utter delight, that your new table or stereo console actually assembles itself.

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Or that those new shades for your home windows autonomously close themselves at night and open themselves in the morning.

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Both of these fantasies may be coming soon to a city near you, thanks to 4D printing technology . And both may be part of a new paradigm of smart city technology.

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Paradigm Shift 4D printing technology was first defined on the TED stage in 2013 by Skylar Tibbits , an assistant professor of design research at MIT and founder of the school’s Self-Assembly Lab.

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“4D printing is multi-material 3D printing plus a new capability called transformation,” Tibbits explained. “We program 3D materials to transform their shape, properties or even their function autonomously in response to external stimuli such as heat, moisture, light, […]