Elaine Khuu is an industrial designer at littleBits and the Digital Arts and Humanities Research Center (DAHRC) at Pratt Institute. Through littleBits Elaine is introducing a new generation of children to engineering and inspiring them to explore their creativity through technology. At Pratt, Elaine collaborates with designers and organizations on new applications of technology. With DAHRC, Elaine has presented the use of pressure sensors and pressure visualizations in furniture at the NYC Media Lab 2015 Annual Summit; and the use of highlighting changes in local fauna and flora to bring attention to global climate change at the BLOOMBERG D4GX (Data for Good Exchange) and STRATA + HADOOP World Conference.
Andrew Bogaard is an MD/PhD candidate at the University of Washington in Seattle who studies the motor cortex, a part of the brain that coordinates movement. It's an important area for clinical and philosophical reasons, he says, because movement is central in our daily lives, and some believe it's the reason brains evolved. Currently, he is conducting experiments in the Fetz lab that use experimental electrical devices for communicating back and forth with the motor cortex. Bogaard hopes that this research will teach us about normal brain functioning and inform development of the next generation of neuroprosthetics. Prior to this, he studied physics and worked in labs at the University of Michigan, MIT and Boston University.
WHAT ARE THEY MAKING?
Elaine and Andrew are creating simple machines representing two models for signal transmission for movement. The first machine represents the concept that distinct neurons fire in a particular sequence to trigger a movement. In contrast, the second machine shows the more likely model that the same movement can be driven by different neurons firing in varying sequence.
Each machine requires two inputs from the viewer: start and reset. To start the ball-run, simply pull the lever labeled START on each machine. Resetting the balls requires the viewer to turn the crank until the balls appear at the top of each machine. While the first machine only has three balls, and needs each of them to run; the second can run with a variable amount.