Disrupting Design

Could drones eventually get so small you could build with them like Lego? What would you create?

Dr. Vertegaal pictures a future where virtual reality lives in the real world without screens — and according to him, we're closer than you might think.

'The best way to predict the future is by inventing it yourself'

Queens University professor Dr. Roel Vertegaal with three flying 'BitDrones' (CBC)

With BitDrones, Dr. Roel Vertegaal and the Human Media Lab at Queens' University are laying the foundations for something audacious: making drones so small that you would stop thinking of them as drones and start thinking of them as "programmable matter."


Dr. Vertegaal pictures a future where we can "create virtual reality that is actually visible in the real world without a screen altogether. It just lives in the real world." He wants this technology to eventually seem like a "real material" you can work with by simply using your hands.


BitDrones are far from fulfilling that vision now, but with nano technology Dr. Vertegaal regards the work ahead as a "very interesting design problem" and thinks "we'll get there." This may seem unrealistic and overly optimistic, but Dr. Vertegaal points to the incredible miniaturization of cell phones as an inspiring example. 


Dr. Vertegaal sees the challenge as more about building than imagining. "Our role is to change the future by designing it, not by pondering what that future might be, by actually doing it today with the available materials and methods."

"The technologies that are going to disrupt 20 years from now are technologies that are designed today."


Disrupting Design celebrates ingenious Canadian designers who are transforming their lives, where they live and the world. Watch Disrupting Design online now.


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