A team of MIT Media Lab researchers is expanding the potential of origami, literally. The AeroMorph collection starts with sheets of paper, plastic, or textile, into which a network of air passages in geometric patterns have been pressed by manual, thermal or robotic means.

This creates inflatable pinched pouches which are subsequently connected and layered to take on complex folding forms.

A computer program allows the designer to experiment and fine-tune shapes and patterns in a simulator. Once the desired response emerges digitally, the structure is fabricated.

Although the technology turns can produce a double-curved origami crane without breaking a sweat, the research team has its sights set on applications for a host of fields, including the packaging industry.

Just imagine, customized wrapping which embraces the most oddly-shaped object, then sits snug inside a standardized box.