The tiny, hair-like cilia used by creatures as diverse as humans, cats, and caterpillars to detect their surroundings have long been sought-after for their sensory capabilities for inclusion in the built space. The challenge, however, has been replicating the biological feature in the lab. The hairs’ small and varied size make them difficult to model but also a challenge to fabricate, particularly via 3D printing. But now, researchers at MIT Media Lab’s Tangible Media Group have found a solution. Their project, Cilllia, provides a new way to design and fabricate microscopic hairs that, together, act like sensors to register mechanical activity—such as a swipe across their surface—and generate an electrical signal. “Instead of a complex 3D model of the surface of every single piece of hair, the software lets you create strands of simple pixels that you can customize based on thickness, height, and shape,” explains Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan for Fast Company’s Co.Design. The researchers fabricated the hairs, which range from 150 micrometers to 50 micrometers in diameter, using Autodesk’s high-resolution Ember 3D printer—in one instance printing 20,000 single hairs on a 2-inch-wide substrate. Applications for the technology are broad and include combining multiple types of cilia for nuanced tasks like sorting small objects (for example, pills in a factory setting, Campbell-Dollaghan explains) or recognizing more physical gestures on a multi-touch screen. [MIT Media Lab] + [Fast Company’s Co.Design]

ICYMI: The rise of the machines on the jobsite continues with these spider-inspired, 3D-printing robots. [ARCHITECT]

The science of big data is often misunderstood, and still requires a human touch for the biggest impact. [CityLab]

HP is entering the 3D-printer market with two industrial-scale units targeting model shops and 3D-printing service providers. [Re/code]

The engineers at Arup’s SoundLab, in New York, are using virtual reality to design better acoustics. [Wired]

Forthcoming provisions in Washington, D.C.’s zoning code could facilitate the building and renting out of ‘‘tiny houses’’ in certain parts of the city. [The Washington Post]

This self-contained, transportable unit uses steam heat from a fire to distribute retardant material to put out the flames. [Gizmag]

The AIA and Autodesk have teamed up on a new tool that will let firms report their AIA 2030 project and portfolio performance to the program’s Design Data Exchange directly from Autodesk’s Insight 360 platform. [AIA]