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an interactive digital tool for biodesigners

Clarice Risseeuw, Jose Martinez Castro, Pascal Barla, Elvin Karana

FlavoMetrics fits the theme "Making Matters" by presenting an interactive digital tool which supports the design of living artefacts for the everyday in the future. How can we help biodesigners explore microorganisms’ potential?

There’s a growing interest among designers in integrating living microorganisms into artefacts as interactive design elements. Living microorganisms such as algae, bacteria and fungi offer unique responsive behaviours to help designers achieve novel functions, expressions, and interaction possibilities. Understanding microorganisms’ temporal and responsive behaviour is essential to designing unique expressions and functions as well as awareness and empathy about livingness and their  struggles. Gaining this understanding through explorations can be challenging as it requires time, special resources and knowledge.

Novel design tools are needed to address these challenges in biodesign in understanding potential expressions of living microorganisms.

“It’s still not the real thing, but it’s much more tangible than reading about it.”

FlavoMetrics is an interactive digital tool which enables biodesigners to model the temporal qualities of a specific microorganism, namely Flavobacteria. These marine bacteria are able to produce vivid, angle-dependent colours which dramatically change over time as well as in relation to their environment. As an open-source tool, FlavoMetrics enables designers to virtually inoculate bacteria and manipulate stimuli to tune Flavobacteria’s living colour in a digital environment.

FlavoMetrics was developed in a multidisciplinary team, bringing together experts in biodesign and computer graphics. First, the angle-dependent colour was simulated through capturing and translating visual data with a custom-made setup, a python script, and blender3D. Next, using the Blender game engine, an interactive tool was created to support biodesigners in performing quick design explorations with Flavobacteria.

The applicability and implications of the tool were explored through a user study inviting biodesigners to work with different microorganisms.

FlavoMetrics is an interactive digital tool which supports the design of living artefacts for future everyday use. It assists biodesigners navigating the design space of living microorganisms by: simulating unique temporal qualities beyond 2D, biodesign education, and experience prototyping of living artefacts.

Through inspiring digital tools to aid biodesigners in exploring living microorganisms’ temporality and responsiveness in an agile, accessible, and resource-efficient manner, FlavoMetrics contributes to the ongoing conversation on the future directions of making and how such interactive digital tools can support design processes.

“I’ve seen similar tools used in microbiology education but they don’t provide such high fidelity.”

Instagram: @clarice_risseeuw

#Flavobacteria #livingcolour #livingmaterials #biodesign


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