My Final Project



This project focuses on my personal experience of creation and reevaluating my connection with my artworks. Birth has emerged as a recurring symbol in my dreams, marking the start of a big idea or the end of a long, hard artistic process. Confronting existential crises within the creative process, amidst my transformation during sleepless nights, physical agony, and the infusion of personal materials into the work, I’ve been looking for a way to express the interwoven suffering and pain inherent in the artistic journey.The wearable breathing sensor functions as a primordial form of communication, a conduit for information and nourishment between the creator and their creation. This soft mechanical robot undergoes inflation with each inhalation and deflation with each exhalation, mirroring the rhythmic breath of its wearer. As I breathe life into my creation, it separates from my own texts and opinions, evolving into a self-contained entity with its own story and importance, shaped by the diverse perspectives and viewpoints of the spectators.

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The concept was to create a soft robot that, just like in a maternal conection, moves in sync with breathing. The participant’s breathing is detected by the breathing sensor. The capacitive sensor, which changes resistance with each inhale due to the stretching of the fabric from the inflating chest, would, as its values decrease, trigger the air pumps to perform a coordinated rhythmic dance with the valves. This results in the robot mimicking a walking cycle. Air from the pump travels through the valve and then moves along a silicone tube to the air chambers in the robot, which are distributed and separated according to each limb of the robot. Initially, both the pump and valve are triggered (if both are coded as open, air flows through the tube to the robot). Once the limb inflates to the desired volume, the pump is turned off, and the valve remains open in the same direction (keeping the air in the specific limb). When we want to release air from a particular limb, the valve in the code is also turned off, meaning it releases the air in the opposite direction. The walking cycle proceeded as follows: initially, both back legs inflated, followed by the body, then both front legs inflated. Subsequently, the back legs deflated, followed by the body, and finally, the front legs deflated as well. For each of these phases, and for each limb, the pump and valve were initially activated, then the pump was deactivated. When it was time for deflation, the valve was turned off as well.

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Because I wanted to literally depict the infusion of parts of myself into my artistic creation, I decided to incorporate my hair into the silicone of the robot. Since the bottom layer of silicone in the robot needs to be denser to limit the inflation to the upper part, this also served a mechanical function. As the project unfolded, the crafting process proved to be a laborious yet immensely educational journey for me. I acquired skills in molding silicone, refined my 3D printing techniques, learned to connect multiple air pumps and solenoid valves into a complex network of cables and transistors, and mastered the creation of a simple capacitive breathing sensor. Additionally, I familiarized myself with operating a sewing machine and an overlocker, wrote the code to link the breathing system to the robot’s movement, and developed a greater sense of independence and confidence in my coding skills throughout the process.

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While I am reasonably satisfied with the progress achieved during the four weeks of trial and error, I’ve come to realize a significant error in opting for a soft robot made with silicone. To enhance the project, my first major modification would involve replacing the unpredictable silicone material with a much sturdier fabric material, reinforced with TPU. This change would mitigate the risk of material ruptures or leaks into the airways connecting the air bubbles (or air sockets). I discovered later in my learning process that current researchers in soft robotics commonly use fabrics due to their absence of holes and their ability to support body or joint movements, acting like muscle connections.

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The second alteration I would make pertains to the robot’s shape. Due to time constraints, the robot ended up resembling the well-known Harvard walking robot. Given the opportunity, I would redesign its shape to be more eerie, organic, and visually aligned with my birth story.

Additionally, I regret not establishing a clearer visual link between the breathing sensor and the moving robot. I would have liked to refine the appearance of the breathing sensor to better complement the robot thematically and enhance its visual appeal.

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Additional images

Here are some additional images showcasing the process of creating the soft robot and breathing sensor.


Here’s the final version of the code I wrote:

Table of needed components

Component Amount Price Supplier Notes
Conductive fabric 0,5 m long stripe 0,67€ Item 4 Conductive rubber may be more accurate for this purpose
Breadboard 1 Item 3 Item 4 Item 5
Airpumps 5 Item 3 Item 4 Item 5
Solenoid valves 6V 5 Item 3 Item 4 Item 5
Silicone tubes (3mm wide) 6 Item 3 Item 4 Item 5
Transistor 6 Item 3 Item 4 Item 5