The trip to the ArtScience Museum was definitely an enriching one as it showed me a glimpse of what our future may possibly become. I felt like I had stepped into a different world, with exhibits ranging from being hyper-realistic to being complex or simply quirky. I enjoyed interacting with most of the works, as they helped me understand a little better about where our rapid development in technology is heading towards. The nature of works in this exhibition was very different from what we are normally used to, or worked on in school – in this case, these work are directly integrated with the artists (or humans) rather than separated. It teaches us about how technology can not only benefit us the conventional way, but integrated within our biological selves as an extension of our abilities and senses.

StickMan, 2017

Techno-biological performance artist Stelarc
Performance at Daedalus, Fringe World, Chrissie Parrot Arts, Perth
Sound by Petros Vouris
Assisted by Tim Jewell, Steve Berrick, Alwyn Nixon-Llyod, Steven Aaron Hugues, Rodney Parsons, Paul Caporn

StickMan features Stelarc, strapped onto a custom-engineered robotic exoskeleton that choreographed his movements remotely through a computer algorithm. The system could generating up to 64 possible combinations of movement, with the help of accelerometers and gyroscopes attached throughout the robot. As it moves continuously, his body movements are tracked simultaneously. Fluctuating waves of sound are also produced as the spine and limbs shifts.



Stelarc’s works were shown near the beginning of the exhibition, and it certainly captured my attention despite being only in video form. I was first captivated by the uninterrupted, seamless movement of the exoskeleton that Stelarc was strapped on. Its swift movements, twists and turns reminded me of a sci-fi action movie, like Transformers or Pacific Rim. As I continued watching the video, many thoughts came to my mind. How is he so calm? Isn’t it uncomfortable? Doesn’t he feel trapped?

Upon reading the artist statement and description, I had a better understanding of the reasons behind Stelarc’s robotic creations. His works blurred in lines between the human body and robotics, revolving around the concept of the human body becoming obsolete. Unlike many sci-fi movies where humans control the robots, Stelarc lets his robots take control, and in this case, his body movements. For five hours, he was robbed of his ability to move freely, and was instead controlled by his machine which was receiving unknown inputs from a computer algorithm.

Our heavy reliance on technology have yet to reach the point where robotic implants are considered a norm. Stelarc’s concept are hence very unique, as most people are not used to these kinds of robotic experiences, for its dangers include technological failure, claustrophobia, pain or bodily harm. He looks beyond the physical discomfort of the body and focuses instead on the extension of the human body, enhancing basic human abilities through the integration of electronics. One of his notable works (see below), Ear on Arm, was a surgical modification that remotely shares what he hears in real-time with the rest of the world.

Personally, I feel that the world of electronic implants and smart robots is within the path of human evolution in the future. While some ethical issues and complexities may come into play, these explorations and creations will nevertheless arouse curiosity and interest in people, and perhaps help our kind.



Device of the Week #2 – NOTCH 3D MOTION SENSORS

Notch is a wearable sensor technology that tracks 3D body motion. It comes in a pack of six small triangular waterproof sensors, weighing less than 10g each. They can be attached to and worn using thin elastic straps, on key areas such as elbows, knees, ankles and torso. Its small and comfortable design allows it to be used anywhere, without hindering movement during activities or being visually obtrusive. Unlike traditional trackers that can only be worn on the wrist, Notch is able to capture much more precise body movements and is suitable for sports or activities involving full body movement.


You can try out the configured 3D visualizations here!



The sensors can be calibrated through the Notch smartphone application, and users can pick a configured movement or create their own. Fit with an accelerometer, gyroscopes and compasses within each device, users can also collect data and replay movements through the app, to check for correct postures and monitor their progress. Sensors can be controlled by tapping to toggle between recording and pausing, to allow movement capture to be continuous or only on specific postures. Users are not restricted to the number of sensors that they can wear, depending on the range of movement tracked.

Screen grab from Notch 3D simulation of motion visualization on their website

Notch is not only an input device but also an output device; a haptic feedback function is included, where a vibrator motor is triggered when a good or bad move is made, acting almost like a ‘personal trainer’. This device is aimed at profession athletes, coaches as well as therapists, making it easier to identify problematic physical habits and to correct techniques. Its waterproof features also benefits synchronized and competitive swimmers.

While it is currently being used mostly by professionals and developers, the Notch kit can be purchased by anyone who wants to try it out, at 379 USD per kit.

Not only is it for sports players but can also greatly benefit healthcare sectors. This device can help injured or disabled patients in physiotherapy, to monitor their movements and track their healing progress. Professionals in various other fields have also expressed interest in the technology: martial arts, climbers and even animators. As they plan on releasing an API for third party users to build additional uses for Notch, the potential uses are endless:

Sports – Sensors act as their personal guide in preventing unnecessary injuries and correcting techniques based on their motion data.

Healthcare – To enhance recovery during physiotherapy.

Entertainment – For dancers and models to perfect their moves, aid 3D animators in creating characters.

VR Gaming – Replace VR controllers to provide a more natural and physically immersive gaming experience


Device of the Week #1 – DRING SMARTCANE

Company: Dring Alert System & Fayet, a French company specialising in handcrafted canes
Technology: GSM and GPS network, accelerometers, gyroscopes

The Dring Smartcane is a walking cane with strategically-designed build-in smart technology around its handle. It is embedded with several motion sensors such as an accelerometer and a gyroscope, programmed to detect any signs of unusual activity from the user, such as falling. It activates with the user’s grip, which is also a factor that triggers the alarm system for any falling activity. Caregivers and family members are automatically alerted when such instances occur, through the integrated GPS system. Signals can also be sent back from the caregiver, to let the elderly know that help is on the way.

Smartcane by Dring: Winner of the Innovation Award CES 2017

The Smartcane also features artificial intelligence algorithms that compiles user movement data and compare them with external data, to learn user habits. Unusual changes over time (such as reduce activity, strange patterns or even tiredness) can also be detected and monitored, helping the user and their families identify possible worsening health conditions. The elderly may not even notice that he/she has been less active over the past month, but the cane would know!

With the lack of elderly health aids in thee high-tech industry, the Smartcane’s user friendly design is a perfect fit into the senior community.


Jérémie Bennegent, AI and Software Engineer for Nov’in

With falls as one of the leading causes in fatal and non-fatal trauma injuries among older adults, I personally feel that this product could truly bring about positive changes in the health of seniors and should be integrated into every society. These incidents could occur anywhere and are very threatening to the fragile frames of the elderly. Perhaps this innovative device would lead us to the future where the fears of falling may no longer be a threat to the elderly. 🙂

Do check out their official site here!

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