We Are Multiple turns an everyday jade plant (the type of plant with the round, green, spongy leaves) into a vessel for human heartbeat. Some of the leaves are pruned, altered with electronics, and then reattached magnetically to the plant. Visitors can pluck a leaf, hold it to their chest, record their heartbeat into the leaf, and place the leaf back onto the plant. The leaf then pulses silently with the visitor’s heartbeat. After a while, different leaves pulse with the heartbeats of different visitors, who can also touch and feel the heartbeats of visitors before them. We Are Multiple explores the way that through high technologies, our identities can be multiple, multiplied, disembodied, and intertwined with others in our absence.
This piece is difficult to exhibit due to the longevity of the leaves, however, in the course of creating We Are Multiple, I developed a novel haptics platform and applications. These technologies have been patented in the U.S. One of the applications emerged directly from the art installation. It is an infant blanket that a caregiver can hold to his or her chest and record his or her heartbeat into, causing the soft blanket to gently pulse with the felt sensation of their heartbeat. They can then swaddle their infant with the blanket. Medical research has shown that gentle, rhythmic, tactile stimulation is not only soothing to infants, but may also help guard against sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The research path for this invention includes investigating this possibility as well as applications for post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans.
Other applications for these high resolution, user configurable, soft and flexible, localizable haptics include cell phones, videogame controllers, computer interfaces, and industrial controls. Currently, I am refining the geometry and materials of the components for the installation and various applications.
This piece also instigated and lent insights into the National Science Foundation-funded project comparing artists inventing to engineers inventing.
Georgia Tech Research and Innovation Conference, 2011
International Conference on Tangible, Embedded, & Embodied Interaction (TEI 2011), Madeira, Portugal
Georgia Research Alliance Phase 1A Grant to commercialize haptic technologies, $11,000, 2013
Top Ten Graduate Student Inventions university-wide, Georgia Tech Research and Innovation Conference, 2011
US patent: Haptic Systems, Devices, and Methods Using Transmission of Pressure Through a Flexible Medium, through Georgia Tech Research Corporation, 2011
Designing from Everyday Experience. In Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Tangible, Embedded, & Embodied Interaction (TEI 2011, Madeira, Portugal), 2011