Plexus is an interactive installation that explores the post-humanist notion of a fully technologically networked human body. This is a collaborative work done with two students, Shikha Singh and Priyal Parikh from the MFA in Design and Technology Program at Parsons School of Design.
DIY Pressure sensor
Our body is a network of distributed parts. Our brain acts as a the central processor, translating inputs from sense organs to outputs of behaviors. Slowly, humans have tested the ability to replace physical body parts with machine such as prosthetics and exoskeletons. We are confronted with a question: could our bodies be modularized to the extent that they are completely replaced with machine?
How does it work?
Each body part (hand, foot, mouth, brain, and heart) is connected wirelessly through a Raspberry Pi. When body part is stimulated, the rest of the body dispersed in space reacts. The brain acts as a server, deciphering stimulus and activating behavioral changes in the whole body. For example, when the hand or foot is squeezed, the Raspberry Pi acts as a neuron releasing neurotransmitters, sending signal to the brain or the central nervous system. On deciphering this information, the brain generates neural impulses emitted to the heart and mouth. The LED in the heart blinks faster and the mouth chatters. When none of the body parts are stimulated, only the brain is lit dimly with an LED and a slow blinking of LED in the heart indicates pumping of blood vessels.
Initially, each body part was connected through RFduino. Only the brain had a Raspberry Pi that acted as a host, allowing a connection between one RFduino to another. The tests carried out, both indoors and outdoors, have proved the instability of Bluetooth, which led us to include Raspberry Pi that works over a wireless network. Currently, the body parts function in sync as long as they are all connected to the same Wi-Fi connection.