With the help of advances in synthetic biology, scientists are beginning to create early forms of bacteria computers, driven by artificial DNA circuits. We identify two immediate opportunities that would benefit the HCI and ubiquitous computing communities in better engagement with such developments. These are 1) The broadened curriculum for basic biological training and education, and 2) Increasingly shifting perception of living matter as hardware in interaction design. We introduce MouldCraft, a smartphone-controlled edutainment console, designed to facilitate playful interactions between humans and living micro-organisms. Main objectives of the console are to teach basic concepts in microbiology, and to re-frame the notion of bacterium as a growable, invisible, and connected ‘toy’, that can sense, actuate and communicate with computer systems and humans. With its accessible modular and interchangeable components, MouldCraft can be a timely toolkit for those outside of professional labs to start engaging with bacteria and their possible futures.
Raphael Kim and Stefan Poslad. 2019. Growable, Invisible, Connected Toys: Twitching Towards Ubiquitous Bacterial Computing. In Proceedings of Halfway to the Future (HTTF 2019), November 19–20, 2019, Nottingham, United Kingdom. ACM, New York, NY, USA, 9 pages. https://doi.org/10.1145/3363384.3363387