What are the side effects to the nanotechnology hype?
In an increasingly pressured society people seek out more extreme and more immersive de-stressing methods. How will nanotechnology meet this need?
Nanotherapy is a critical speculative design project intending to bring to light the potential dark side to nanotechnologies. Neuroscience is a fairly recent discipline compared to medicine and essentially looks at how the brain works. This project focuses on the combination of nano-diamonds, which are used to track energy exchanges between neurons; neuropeptides which respond to skin stimulation (e.g. touch); and serotonin - a hormone which, besides making you feel good, can be used to stimulate brain activity and increase clarity of visualisation.
It imagines a future when instant brain activity visualisation becomes commonplace; a regular practice in the healthcare system that provides key data for neurological diagnosis. Because certain visualisation techniques require an injection of chemically modified compounds, or radioactive tracers, an example being serotonin, the experience could potentially be made enjoyable for the patient to the point that it becomes a form of addiction. Illegal therapy rooms could sprout everywhere, initiating a new kind of social practice.
The Therapy Room
The Therapy Room is designed as a pastime game room, featuring objects and tools aimed at enhancing the experience. The sensation enhancing objects provide amplified haptic experience, while an empowering 360 view live streaming of brain activity presents users with an immersive visual spectacle. The therapeutic objects allow the user to manipulate their visual output by touching and playing with them in different ways, making the experience highly personalised.
Therapy room experience props: brain + therapy tools
Props (close up): brain + therapy tools
Sensation enhancing objects
Therapy room user
Process work: therapy room visualization exercise
Programming with Arduino
To facilitate the Therapy Room Experience performance, three different sensation enhancing objects with varying tactile qualities were designed using various materials: expanding foam, corn flour, silicon adhesive, latex, plastic, wood, and acrylic spray.
Moreover, a ‘brain activity visualiser’, in the shape of a human brain, was made using expandable foam. The brain prototype featured addressable LEDs (covered with custom plastic casing) that responded to pressure from interaction with the therapy objects. This was made possible by placing a pressure sensor inside a glove that is worn during the experience. As the user interacted with the objects, each one requiring different way of handling due to their different form and material properties, the sensor collected this live pressure data. The data was then computationally converted to light intensity which was used to characterise the LEDs for an interactive experience.