Research @ MIT Media Lab | 2014 – 2015
BioLogic is our attempt to program living organism and invent responsive and transformational interfaces of the future. Nature has engineered its own actuators, as well as the efficient material composition, geometry and structure to utilize its actuators and achieve functional transformation. Based on the natural phenomenon of hygromorphic transformation, we introduce a specific type of living cells as actuators that react to body temperature and humidity change. The living actuator can be controlled by electrical signal and communicate with the virtual world as well.A digital printing system and design simulation software are developed to assist the design of transformation structure.
CHI 2015 | bioLogic: Natto Cells as Nanoactuators for Shape Changing Interfaces. Yao. L., Ou, J., Cheng, C., Steiner, H., Wang, W., Wang, G. and Ishii, H | Best Talk award | Honorable Mentions award
3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing Journal | bioPrint: A Liquid Deposition Printing System for Natural Actuators. Yao. L., Ou, J., Wang, G., J., Cheng, C., Wang, W., Steiner, H. and Ishii. Dec, 2015 | Invited Paper | Cover Feature
Concept | Nature has engineered its own actuators, as well as the efficient material composition, geometry and structure to utilize its actuators and achieve functional transformation. Based on the natural phenomenon of cells’ hygromorphic transformation, we introduce the living Bacillus Subtilis natto cell as a humidity sensitive nano-actuator. In this research, we unfold the process of exploring and comparing cell types that are proper for design use, the development of the composite biofilm, the development of the responsive structures, the control setup for actuating biofilms, and a design-simulation-fabrication platform.
The Second Skin | These animate cells are harvested in a bio lab, assembled by a micron-resolution bio-printing system, and transformed into a responsive fashion, a “Second Skin”. We can now observe the self-transforming biological skin activated by living bacteria. The synthetic bio-skin reacts to body heat and sweat, causing flaps around heat zones to open, enabling sweat to evaporate and cool down the body through an organic material flux. In collaboration with New Balance, bioLogic is bringing what once may have lived in the realm of fantasies into the world of sportswear.
Digital Fabrication Meets Biology | We have developed a various of ways to make transformable units using our bio-film, and we also explored three different types of fabrication process: manual pipetting, atomizing and inkjet printing. For inkject printing, to deposit the cell precisely onto the substrate, we built our multi-functional modular printer, replacing the drill of a commercial CNC gantry to a nuzzle, customizing control system, and designing functional units.
Art Exhibition | We curated and designed an artistic exhibition to help celebrate MIT Media Lab 30’s anniversary. In the exhibition, we created sculpture with transformable films, steaming robot with transformable primitives, as well as 2.5D biofilms. We were intended to create the conversation between “the born” and “the made” world. The exhibition was invited to showcase in Ars Electronica 2016.
Workshop | To further search its possibilities, we organized a hands-on short term class for students at MIT in winter 2015. We try to explore the tangible biological interface and digital design, and vision to reach a controllable performance. We provide students with the concepts and tools for designing complex biological origami structures with living microorganism entities, where synthetic biology, architectural modeling, rational engineering and tangible design, will be seamlessly merged together.