Friday, 3 February 2012

Microbial Home

“Microbial Home” is a project done by Philips Design Probes, which is a far future research program of Philips. Philips Design Probes was established to explore far future lifestyle scenarios based on rigorous research in a wide range of areas. Their projects aim to spark discussion and debate around new ideas and lifestyle concepts. The Microbial Home probe adopts a systemic ­approach to many of the domestic processes we take for granted and asks questions about how we deal with resources. It is a proposal for an integrated cyclical domestic ecosystem where each function’s output is another’s input. It views­ the home as a biological machine to filter, process­ and recycle what we conventionally think of as­ waste – sewage, effluent, garbage and waste water.

 The Microbial Home probe consists of 7 concept items: this infograpic shows how all concepts work together within a domestic setting.

Bio-digester Island; the central hub in the Microbial Home system consists of a methane digester which converts toilet waste solids and vegetable trimmings into methane gas that is used to power a series of functions in the home.

Larder; an evaporative cooling and vegetable storage system.

Bio Light; a concept that explores the use of bioluminescent bacteria, which are fed with methane and composted material.

Filtering Squatting toilet; a waste separating squatting toilet that filters effluent while channelling excreta to a methane digester in the Microbial Home system.

Urban Beehive; a concept designed for keeping bees at home and to create an urban refuge for bees as global bee colonies are in decline.

Paternoster; a concept for a domestic (or school) plastic waste up-cycler that uses mycelium to break down plastic packaging waste.

Apothecary: a concept developed for slow-diagnosing at home using 4 diagnostic tools.

I could go into more detail on all these concept but after Laura’s post on bioluminescence it might be nice to show more of the Bio-light, which is exactly about this.

The bio-light uses different biological technologies to create ambient light effects. The concept explores the use of bioluminescent bacteria, which are fed with methane and composted material (drawn from the methane digester in the Microbial Home system). Alternatively the cellular light array can be filled with fluorescent proteins that emit different frequencies of light.

This concept has been created using a technique where individual cells are hand-blown into a steel frame which is freestanding or hung on the wall. Each cell is connected via silicon tubes to the food source (which is drawn from a reservoir at the base) creating a closed loop system for the living material. This represents a new genre of ‘living’ biological products. Potentionally these products could be self-energizing, adaptive, responsive, self-repairing, act as biological sensors to environmental conditions, and change the way we communicate information.

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