Imagine if each tiny little block of something was actually a smart object (meaning it has a CPU, input & output), and that these blocks worked as a group to reposition themselves. Sort of like lego’s that build themselves. Cool huh? Real.
Granted these things are not sand sized yet, with some serious miniaturization still needing to take place, but the fun work of the low-level system logic and control design is underway.
The idea is much like a replicator on Star Trek, in that you could provide this system with a 3D item to scan (or a wireframe image of one) and it would send the design to the sandbots. The software in the sandbots would work to position and lock themselves into place, ultimately creating a reasonable facsimile of the object’s shape.