Human Geography v1.0

Bio-OS: DIY.

Bio-OS: DIY Human Geography v1.0 is the first Bio-OS publication.
You may have arrived at this page by way of the QR code in the physical publication.

First published for i-DAT in 2011.
Produced by i-DAT in collaboration with Message, E-Health and Health Informatics.
Published by Liquid Press (i-DAT).
Copyright: Bio-OS by i-DAT is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
ISBN 978-1-84102-298-7



Bio-OS: DIY, Human Geography v1.0 describes the emergence of ‘Bio-OS’ ( – prototype technologies (hardware and software) that make data generated by the human body, (heart rate, breathing rate, body temperature and galvanic skin response), tangible. By making this data readily available to the public, artists, engineers and scientists we can better explore its transformative potential for nurturing scientific research, new arts practice and new cultural forms.


This online publication is intended to offer a DIY insight into the development of the Bio-OS prototype.

Bio-OS Technology:

Bio-OS System Diagram:
The key elements of the system architecture, outlined below, are discussed in the following sections below.

system-diag (1)

0: Bio-OS (continue on this page).

1: Bio-OS Data Input: sensor strap (publication QR code).

2: Bio-OS Data Input: sensor strap (publication QR code).

3: Bio-OS Data Input: smartphone & software (app) (publication QR code).

4: Bio-OS Data Processing: data server (publication QR code).

5: Bio-OS Data Output: triggers (publication QR code).

6: Bio-OS User Guide (pdf download).


About Bio-OS:
The project is supported by Arts Council England and delivered by i-DAT working in partnership with E-Health and Health Informatics at Plymouth University. The project was developed through a series of collaborative ‘DataLabs’ and artist commissions to co-research and develop the Bio-OS prototypes through practices which embrace interactive art, ubiquitous technologies, data visualisation, transmedia story telling, social gaming and interaction design.

i-DAT’s collaborative DataLab is an initiative which aims to foster an open and collaborative environment which brings together artists, researchers and scientists to develop ‘provocative prototypes’ that lead to new practice, knowledge and resources for the arts and society as a whole. This initiative will enable artists to engage with these new digital opportunities and processes, to foster the creation of new work and engage with new audiences. These activities build dynamic links between academic research and artistic practice to foster transdisciplinary, and new cultural forms.

The artists commissioned to collaborate on the DataLab project were: Katy Connor, Hannah Wood and Slingshot.


The Body:
It is a temporal fragmented body that Bio-OS engages with. It sees the body both as a landscape and as an object in a landscape: Bodies in Environments / Bodies as Environments. Within and through these internal and external landscapes the instruments developed for the Bio-OS create a space for creative practice.

The body operates as a conduit for the exchange for ideas, knowledge and the transformation of physical objects. The body is also a node in a more problematic network; such as supply chains for food, traffic and amenities. Bio-OS engages with the body and the ‘things’ that cluster around it through a process of participatory design of ‘provocative prototypes’ to generate realtime data models of human activity. Consequently, Bio-OS enables the human body to become a networked and shared ‘thing’.

Through Bio-OS dynamic visual and sonic experiences, derived from human movement, are being tailored to enhance public understanding of the collective, mass biology. In this context Bio-OS and its distribution and engagement mechanisms provide an open tool for public engagement, with a domain that is primarily owned by medical, scientific fields.

Bio-OS provides accessible tools (through ‘hacks’, wearable devices, phone Apps and domestic and public health technologies and social media tools), that are being deployed in daily life for monitoring health and activity. Data collected from these tools feed dynamic databases that facilitate a shared understanding of the mass body index, through visualisations and sonifications.


As a biological instrument Bio-OS builds on the i-DAT’s ‘Operating Systems’ ( initiative. These are open instruments for gathering data from environments (buildings and landscapes) and organisms (crowds and bodies), and are focused on delivering dynamic and interactive outputs through a range of technologies (such as social networks, streaming media, mobile phone apps, Full Dome environments, etc). These ‘Operating Systems’ dynamically manifest ‘data’ as experience in order to enhance perspectives on a complex world, in order to design and share such ‘instruments’ or ‘provocative prototypes’ topically described as the ‘Internet of Things’.

The Operating Systems initiative explores data as an abstract and invisible material that generates a dynamic mirror image of our biological, ecological and social activities. The Operating Systems initiative proposes a range of tools and methods that have the potential to enhance our ability to perceive and orchestrate this mirror world.

Bio-OS was bought to you through a collaborative process involving:

based at the Plymouth University, bridges the gap between academic research and real world engagement to generate social, economic and cultural benefit.

E-Health and Health Informatics, Plymouth University:
Professor Ray Jones and Kurt Defreitas

Message Research Group:
MADr, Arts Faculty, Plymouth University:Tom Barwick and Dean Owens

Hannah Wood, Transmedia Writer:
“I’m interested in telling stories across multiple platforms that enable players to interact with narratives in compelling and unusual ways. This project offers an opportunity for players to use their own body as a storytelling platform to interact with a narrative that crosses technological and real world platforms. This asks us to think about the way stories impact on our bodies and how our bodies are written into narratives.”

Katy Connor, Installation Artist:
“I am profoundly interested in media technologies and data visualisation, but more significantly in how our bodies engage with this machinery. Often, this kind of interaction is in a medical context.”

Simon Evans, Slingshot, Street and pervasive games company:
“SlingShot use cities as platforms, encouraging players to interact with the urban space in novel ways. The project will allow us to extend this interaction, deepening the connection between people’s bodies and urban space. This will raise some interesting questions about how cities shape bodies and the rhythms of our everyday lives?”


Plymouth University,
Drake Circus,
PlymouthPL4 8AA,
Devon, UK.
0044-(0)1752 586201