The Pokéball does THIS

Technology |  2 min. read

What can you catch with your rotary actuated dodecahedron (we’ll call it RAD for short)?

Bulbasaur!  Pikachu, of course.  Snorlax too.

Because a RAD is the kind of thing a Pokéball would be, if a Pokéball were actually a thing.

Luckily though, since a RAD IS a real thing, there are real things you can catch with it.  And luckily, since not everyone is interested in Pokémon – the things you can actually catch with a RAD, have nothing to do with Pokémon.

Like jellyfish, for instance.  There is a lot for scientists to study about jellyfish.  For one, they are an important part of the ocean food chain – that sequence in which A eats B, and C eats B, and D eats C, and so on.  For another, there is one type of jellyfish that seems to be immortal – at some point, it starts to get younger instead of older until it goes all the way back to its beginnings, and then starts fresh (yes, it IS called the Benjamin Button jellyfish).  And if you’ve ever watched jellyfish drifting on the current in an aquarium, they are just mesmerizing to watch.

Which brings us back to Pokéballs and RADs.  A RAD “catches” things, like a Pokéball.  And, kind of like a Pokéball, it protects them instead of destroying them (which is no easy task, with something as delicate as a jellyfish).  This particular RAD was developed by scientists at the Wyss Institute, Harvard University, to be used for just this purpose.

It works like a motorized bit of origami – with polymer “petals” that open around an object (like a jellyfish), and quickly close up around it, making a soft dodecahedron (meaning, twelve-sided, and yes, we had to look that up) container.  That can allow the jellyfish to be studied right where it is, even if it where it is, is thousands of feet below the ocean surface.  And, when the work is done – it can release the jellyfish, or whatever else is being studied, unharmed back into the ocean.

So now you have a “Pokéball” that can be placed on the end of a mechanical arm, on a remote-controlled submarine, with cameras and sensors – that can make up an underwater lab for studying living creatures.  And, you also have something that just looks cool to watch in action, like this:

And maybe now, you can “catch ‘em all.”  (Yes, another Pokémon reference.)