Monthly Archives: September 2017

Power of the mud

mudMonsterBatts

Robotic artist Paul Granjon and bio-engineer Michka Melo are exploring the usability of microbial fuel cells for powering small robotic, sensing, interactive systems. Microbial fuel cells work by harnessing the electron-releasing capability of certain types of bacteria widely found in soil and mud. Paul and Michka have started working together on Microbial Fuel Cells, commonly known as Mud Batteries, in 2016.

 

Their batteries contain sediment mud from Barry Island, Wales. The mud is rich in  bacteria of the Shewanella (below) or Geobacter type, that deliver bioelectrogenesis (generation of electricity by living organisms).

 

shewanella2


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In September 2017 we showed our first working prototype in the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Digital Design Weekend in London, here is the link to fully detailed report on our experiments on microbial fuel cells before the event.

We had a great time, lots of questions and interest with amazed, amused, puzzled looks. Our bacteria worked hard and slow, 12 mud batteries powering 2 small robots for 10 seconds every 10 minutes. The robots run from a BBC Microbit each, with a small motor and an LED.

Thanks to Irini Papadimitriou for inviting us!

 

photo: Martine Goldschmidt-Clermont

 

 

powerMudDrawing

With support from FabCre8 @ Cardiff School of Art and Design

Power of the Mud prototypes

work in progress

 

 

See our mini machines moved by bacterial mud power, among a great selection of cutting edge projects by international artists and designers, during the Digital Design Weekend in Victoria and Albert Museum London, 23rd and 24th September 2017.

Detailed info on our work with microbial fuel cells here.

 

LAUREN – Smart (human) intelligence for the home assistant

LAUREN is a project by new media artist Lauren McCarthy. She will impersonate a home automation assistant not unlike Amazon’s Alexia, responding to users’ vocal commands and acting on their connected domestic environment. Project Lauren will last 3 days.

 

 

“Lauren will control your home for you, attempting to get better than an AI, understanding you as a person”.

I reckon it is a no brainer for Lauren the HI (human intelligence) to be better than Alexa or Siri, examples mentioned by the artist on the project’s website.

Volunteers might feel more morally observed than by an artificial assistant, and may have to deal with interruptions of service due to naps or other very human breaks.

You can apply here if you are interested in hosting Lauren in your home.

 

— Why do I blog about that?

 

I have an ongoing interest in the way machines and humans roles overlap or shift, takeover, resistance, harmony, symbiosis. Power, delegation, cyber-isation. Lauren is an interesting gesture that reminds us about the unique -as yet- touch humans can bring to other humans in a way machines cannot. My own Am I Robot installation works on a similar principle of injecting HI in a system normally driven by AI or simpler algorithms.

 

The Wizard of Oz, HI trickster, exposed by Toto's down to earth DI (dog intelligence)