Real-life Transformers: 9 shape-shifting objects

Why are the Transformers so compelling? Beyond the surprisingly deep mythology and incredible special effects, the entire idea of something effortlessly shape-shifting from one physical mode to another is intriguing, if only because it's not something you often see. If there's such a thing as "transformation" technology, our civilization's is extremely primitive compared to the Autobots and Decepticons.

But it's not nonexistent. Our world may not be as advanced as Cybertron, but examples abound of objects that change shape. We've rounded up the nine most astonishing man-made creations that are real-world transformers — click Continue to roll out!

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1. Incredible Sliding House

The sliding greenhouse by UK-based dRMM Architecture is actually a triple transformer — or, at least, it's three houses in one. It was designed to be the coolest retirement home in the universe.

How it transforms: The whole thing, in total, is a greenhouse, barn and garage. The greenhouse slides in and out of the barn enclosure atop a concrete base.

Autobot or Decepticon? It's too much like Metroplex not to be an Autobot. And we couldn't see the Decepticons wanting to promote green living. Well, except maybe Scorponok — he's technically nature-y, right?

2. Underwater Convertible

The Rinspeed sQuba is a submarine in disguise. Or, we suppose, a car in disguise, if you happened to see it underwater.

How it transforms: One tilt of the water jets above the front tires and the sQuba seamlessly turns itself into a watercraft. Just drive right into the lake (as long as you've got scuba tanks, of course). The jets and rear-mounted propellers push you along.

Autobot or Decepticon? We'll give this one to the Autobots for their love of hot rods, such as the film's versions of Bumblebee and Jazz. That said, you're going to see a lot of Decepticons prowling around underwater in Revenge of the Fallen.

3. Transforming High Heels

The Camileon transforming high heel is 1.5-inch heel one moment and a 3.25-inch one the next. For the $250+ sticker price, though, you could probably just buy a pair of each.

How it transforms: The tip of the heel is mounted on a bar. Give it a tug and it unlocks, letting you swing it up under the shoe or back down to extend the heel. See it in action here.

Autobot or Decepticon? We imagine whether or not our lady readers consider heels evil depends on how they feel, so we're a bit split. Arcee's heels aren't too tall (you know, for a giant robot), so we'll say at the 1.5-inch mark the Camileons are Autobots. At 3.5 inches, however, you're looking at a Decepticon! (Or at least some pain.)

4. M-TRAN II Robot

We wouldn't be talkin' Transformers without a robot in the mix, right? That's where the M-TRAN II comes in. While not as pretty, it's still a 'bot.

How it transforms: The M-TRAN II reconfigures itself depending on what terrain it's facing. On flat ground, for instance, it'd walk on for legs. For stuff like slopes, it contorts itself into what resembles a blocky snake.

Autobot or Decepticon? If you aren't familiar with the Constructicons — the industrial arm of the Decepticons — you'll see them in Revenge of the Fallen. Just like M-TRAN (and Voltron), they reconfigure themselves to overcome obstacles, such as battling Autobots in Egypt.

5. NASA's New Helicopter Rotor

NASA's shape-shifting helicopter rotor was developed in cooperation with DARPA and Boeing.

How it transforms: Actuators installed in the rotors are subjected to electrical fields, which change their elasticity and generates a mechanical, rocking motion which moves the flaps.

Autobot or Decepticon? If it's about helicopters then it's gotta be Blackout. Who knew NASA, DARPA and Boeing were in cahoots with Megatron?

6. Illy Push Button House

Shipping container by day, five-room abode by any other time of day, the Illy Push Button House transforms between its two modes in 90 seconds.

How it transforms: A computer-brain stored in the kitchen powers powerful hydraulic arms that unfold the house. The only thing it's missing in the end is a roof.

Autobot or Decepticon? Only an Autobot could unfold into such a cozy little house. Then again, the aforementioned Constructicons would be right at home with a shipping container.

7. Magic Teaspoon

Here's one that'll have you saying, "Whoa." Well, I guess that'd depend on whether or not you think there is a spoon to begin with.

How it transforms: Part of the spoon's handle is made with Nitinol, a metal that can return to its original shape. Running the spoon under hot and cold water will make it switch between two positions.

Autobot or Decepticon? A transforming spoon? We're going with Autobot, just because that's as useless as Wheelie.

8. Casulo Mobile Living Furniture

We already introduced you to a transforming house — now how about a Casulo crate that unfolds into a bed, desk, shelves, cabinet and more? C'mon — if you've got a transforming house, you may as well furnish it with transforming furniture.

How it transforms: You can see the step-by-step process in the video above. What starts as a crate only a few feet wide and tall eventually unpacks into an entire furnished room.

Autobot or Decepticon? Sure, both the Decepticons and Autobots turn into cars — and those cars have comfy seats inside — but it's the Autobots who don't mind giving folks a ride. We think they'd be more open to the idea of transforming into cozy furniture.

9. 6-in-1 Solar Robot Kit

Your average Transformer has two modes: a robot and a vehicle. The Solar Robot Kit? It transforms into different seperate things: a dog, boat, car, windmill, "moving" plane and "desktop" plane (the last of which is like the moving plane, though it sits still on your desk).

How it transforms: Without you, it doesn't. The kit includes 25 different parts that you can use to cobble together its half-dozen forms, though surely you could get creative and make your own.

Autobot or Decepticon? All this kit needs is a way for you to combine all six different forms and you'd have yourself Devastator, whose Constructicons have been seen quite a bit on this list. So we're going Decepticon for this one. All it would need is a pair of wrecking balls to complete the illusion.

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