Design Sketches 2012

Here are several design sketches produced by students in 2012:

Golan, Keren – Healthy Eating

This is a biosensor scenario for everyday life; it is not intended as a diet system, or as a substitute for medical treatment. People need to eat, however what people eat over the course of a day can substantially increase caffeine, sugar, fat, and salt levels.

I propose a biosensor combined with a small memory chip; the purpose of the biosensor is to measure data such as blood pressure and heart rate, and any other data that can be traced to elevated levels of any of these drugs. A person would then be able to go to a restaurant and submit their biosensor for scanning. The system would then make food recommendations to the user based on:
- Preferences and allergies stored on the small memory chip
- Avoidance of foods that would cause whatever is at high levels in the person’s system to increase
- Food items that can aid in reducing the high levels of a given toxin

The system would work with your biosensor to provide expert information tailored to your needs.

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Golan, Keren – ADHD Treatment for Adolescents


Mood-altering medications have been prescribed to a large number of children and young adults in the recent past.  Drugs such as Ritalin are routinely prescribed for children with attention deficits and tendencies to disrupt classroom activities.

More recently a trend has emerged that aims to reduce reliance on drug treatment and to increase the interaction with and treatment by teachers. At the kindergarten level, for example, some schools are providing for children experiencing an ADHD episode, dedicated rooms with low levels of external stimulation. Unfortunately, the onset of such episodes is currently detected by human observation only, often too late.

I propose a biosensor based detection scheme (including the detection of dopamine levels) integrated into the classroom chairs. The system would detect sudden and erratic changes in dopamine levels and inform teachers of this condition before the onset of an episode.  This will give teachers time to direct students to the low stimulation calm room.

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Niagolova, Nevena – Warning Shirt

Different people have different degrees of response to allergens. Some have minor allergies while some have severe responses. If a person is particularly allergic (or sensitive) to a substance, let’s say birch, they could wear a special fabric equipped with biosensors that could be customized to respond to that specific allergen. The focus is on allergens that evoke a response when in contact with skin. Different biosensors could be combined for the detection of multiple allergens. This fabric could be worn specifically at events during which one might expect to be exposed, for example hiking in a forest. The fabric would also offer a layer of protection so that the user’s skin would not be exposed directly to the allergen. Once detected, the sensor/reaction layer would inform the user of the incident by changing colour. The garment should be washable and the detection stains rinsed off when laundered by hand in cold water and air dried.

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Niagolova, Nevena – Sensing Door


What if your home knew your physical state  even before you even entered it? Biosensors could be integrated right into the entrance of the home. This would involve a new kind of doorknob that could detect a person’s skin temperature, pulse, moisture content and handprints. To unlock the door, handprints have to be read. If the door is opened, the environment inside is adjusted to suit the person’s needs. For example – the heat could be turned on if hands are deemed cold. In addition to real time responses, the system could proactively heat the house to a previously chosen condition based on the recorded habits and schedule of the user.

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Niagolova, Nevena – Public Health Observation System

There is general public concern about the cleanliness of hands, i.e. what we touch in public places and how diseases, such as flus, are transmitted. This is a public health observation system for subway cars, buses and other public transport vehicles, where surfaces are touched by multitudes of people. Surfaces of these vehicles would be equipped with biosensors, which when touched show feedback when exposed to UV light. This would allow data about the amount and exchange of substances to be collected as well as the location of the most highly trafficked areas to be determined.

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Talib, Bashar – Customized Hiking Trails

This is a location sensing and context aware computing system set in an open landscape. The ultimate goal is to protect the delicate landscape of a nature reserve and to ensure the safety of its users. This landscape would be exposed to minimal and controlled hiking activities. Hikers would carry special sensors that allow the reserve managers to determine the location of the hikers and other vital information at all times. In cases of distress, using the same sensors, hikers would be able to alert the reserve managers, who would act accordingly. 

These sensors would help create an interactive map to be discovered by the hikers. The map would highlight points of interest, possible hiking routes and permanent infrastructure nodes (such as washrooms and electric outlets). 

Finally, the sensor would also measure the cardiovascular endurance of the hikers and suggest appropriate hiking routes as they make their way through the reserve.

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Vos, Stacie – Municipal BreathSafe Program

This program mandates that all buildings with public access adhere to indoor air quality standards as per municipal guidelines. Similar to Toronto’s DineSafe Program for restaurant cleanliness and regular maintenance of fire extinguishers, this program would be in place to prevent instances of Sick Building Syndrome. Sensors would be placed according to indoor user concentration levels to attain an accurate reading of the building’s environment. Sensor data gives building management a comprehensive understanding of what might have caused the system to indicate bad conditions or if filters need to be changed, systems upgraded, etc. Building occupants are often left in the dark regarding the actual quality of the indoor environment. This program incorporates a public notification system that would alert users of unsafe conditions via neon lighting and fog at all building entrances allowing users to know the indoor conditions before they enter.  Building owners are encouraged to maintain a good public image because they do not want to be shamed through publicly visible light indicators; as a result, everyone benefits.

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Vos, Stacie – Bio-Data Fascination Space

What will happen to expired biosensors in the future, once they become ubiquitous? I envision that the sensor objects will be disposed of, similar to mobile phones, whereas the collected data will have a future beyond its collection. Celebrity biosensors, in particular, could create a marketable enterprise. Instead of fixating on collected, static objects from a celebrity’s life we can fixate on the data which animates the legacy of a person’s life. The architectural space for our fascination would consist of a 21st century ‘cabinet of curiosities’ where an immersive experience provides a deeper understanding of a person’s body.

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Wong, Kenneth – Duck Feed

Wildlife in parks in dense urban centers or newly planned communities is often scarce if not void.  Duck Feed aims to bring back life to public spaces by providing food for animals at appropriate times according to whether or not the space is being used by a person.

Specific park benches in focus areas of the city/country are outfitted with sensors under each immediate seat that detect body weight and how long the person has been on the bench.  This information helps identify whether or not a person is sitting on the bench, and if so, automatically releases duck feed from nearby dispensers.  Ducks arrive and complete scenic view.

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Wong, Kenneth – Potty Training

Don’t you hate it when you need to use the bathroom, and there is pee all over the seat?  In the near future, all public washroom stalls will be outfitted with a payment system.  It will be understood that if you don’t have 25 cents, you’ll have to line up for the free washroom stall (one per washroom, layout of 10 stalls), which is a longer wait, is generally filthy, and not well-maintained.  Urine/Fecal/Fluid sensors are integrated into the toilet seat surface as a thin layer of adhesive film.  Since all human excrement contains protein, the film is constructed to detect traces of protein on the surface above a certain visible amount.  When a user makes a mess or has poor aim, the sensor triggers an electronic signal to the toilet stall door and an automatic latch locks the user in the stall.  A separate container within the stall beside the toilet roll dispenser opens revealing cleaning materials, and until the biosensor is rid of the urine/fecal signal on the toilet seat, the stall remains locked and the 25 cents remains in the lock mechanism.  The user also has the option of losing their 25 cents by pushing the red button to exit without cleaning.  Potty training for adults.

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Yang, Grace – Interactive Rehearsal / Recital Rooms
Monitoring and Promoting Stage Performance in Music Conservatories

Musicians wear a biosensor that monitors their body temperature, heart and respiratory rate, and the improvement in a particular piece by detecting errors. The data collected from the body and the music being played reveals the musician’s progress on a scale of 1 to 5. Every level (shown as a music note) creates different atmospheres in the room through the use of smart glass and lighting.

The glass window is opaque for privacy while the musician concentrates on learning at levels 1 and 2. At level 3 the musician has the option to go into rehearsal mode with frosted glass or to move towards the next stage. The glass becomes transparent and lighting starts to change at level 4. At level 5, the light quality and intensity replicate the concert experience. Spotlights hit the room with the top result and music from the room is broadcasted for the public to enjoy in the atrium.

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Yang, Grace – Glowing Plants
Highlighting Phytoremediation in Bioswales and Constructed Wetlands

Bioswales are trough-like depressions in the landscape designed to retain and filter urban runoff before it streams into a storm sewer or watershed. Although often overlooked, they play a critical role in maintaining the water quality of our urban streets. This project proposes the use of biosensors to monitor the effectiveness of phytoremediation within a bioswale or constructed wetland. The sensor measures the amount of contaminants absorbed by the plant and responds by lighting up at night, varying in colour depending on the amount of contaminants. The illumination during the night acts as a reminder for the necessary maintenance (red lights indicating disposal of toxic plants). This project not only attracts people to areas with cleaner water, but also creates a pedestrian-friendly space in urban areas typically utilized by vehicles.

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Chen, SekChee – Moving Plants

In this project the plants (not humans) decide their placement within an indoor setting.

This project needs sensors (A, B and D), a multiplexer (C), an automated pot with a motor (E), and a computer (F).

There are three types of sensors:
A. Electronic sensors placed on the pot to receive and measure sunlight in the room.
B. Biosensors attached to the plants to evaluate the level of photosynthesis by measuring the rate of organic compounds (sugars) produced.
D. Ultrasonic sensors attached to the motor (E) driving the castors under the pot.

The multiplexer converts the sensor inputs to a single value correlating the level of sunlight received at a specific location in the room to the level of photosynthesis taking place in each plant. This data is sent wirelessly to a computer. The computer instructs the ultrasonic sensor (D) to move the plants to their respective locations for optimum sunlight exposure.

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