"Intelligent" clothes that change colour, furniture which assembles itself and surgical instruments that can morph to fit different hands may sound far-fetched.
But research is now being carried out in Singapore that could turn these ideas into reality.
The Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) is looking into 4-D printing, taking 3-D printing one step further by producing items that can be programmed to change their shape and properties.
In 3-D printing, advanced printers are used to build three-dimensional objects from the bottom up through layers of printing.
4-D printing may use the same machines to make materials that can be programmed to change over time.
The SUTD scientists created a way to make flat sheets, using a combination of materials, which fold themselves into a box or the shape of an aeroplane when heated. These could be the precursor to furniture which puts itself together.
The field of 4-D printing has gained traction globally in recent years because of its wide range of applications.
The United States Army Research Office recently funded work in this area in the hope of creating camouflage- changing uniforms.