The Smart Heart necklace is a 24 month project which aimed to develop a wearable cardiac monitor necklace with the capacity to collect, store and remotely transmit cardiac data collected over an extended period for analysis by medical professionals. The neckpiece is aimed at patients who have recently suffered a heart attack or who are experiencing heart rhythm problems.
Smart Heart has been developed as a collaboration between RMIT University, St. Vincent’s Hospital and the Nossal Institute for Global Health. It’s funded by Gandel Philanthropy.
The project has been developed in a trans-disciplinary team that traverses design, weaving, electronic engineering, signal processing and health sciences.
The Incus, developed for Blamey Saunders Hears in 2013, enables the user of a hearing aid to tailor their hearing experience on-the-go. The programmer sits between the hearing aid and a mobile device and allows for discreet switching of hearing programs - e.g. from bike riding to a church service – to ensure the user has full hearing in all conditions.
The Incus is part of the IHearYou self fit hearing system that has recently won a Good Design Award for Social Innovation.
This research investigates the potential to therapeutically augment medical jewellery using nanotechnologies and micro-electronics. The project works from the need for well researched and designed emergency jewellery using advanced technologies to identify the wearer’s allergies and identity in times of medical crisis. Developed in collaboration with Keely Macarow and Paul Beckett. Film stills by Wootown Studios and Narelle Sheean, compositing by Tom Frauenfelder
Film: ABC Documentary
Filmed over 2014-15 this micro-documentary, introduced by Phenella Kernebone, explores the emotional considerations underpinning my practice. Created by Carlo Zeccola.
The ‘Seed Sensor’ is a swallowable tablet that unfolds like a flower in the digestive tract to detect gas fluctuations in the body (methane, carbon dioxide etc) that may be a symptom of undiagnosed disease. The aim of the project is to achieve a less invasive biomedical application than what is currently available. Developed in collaboration with Paul Beckett. Photographs by Narelle Sheean
The Diabetes Jewellery project was developed in collaboration with Nanotechnology Victoria during an Arts Victoria AIR Residency in 2007-8. The technologies allow for pain-free delivery of insulin to the body, replacing syringes. They question how we might ‘enable’ our favourite possessions with functionality above and beyond the aesthetic.
Photographs by Narelle Sheean
Film: AG Ideas 2013 - Design Does Matter
In 2013 I presented to over 2000 people at AG Ideas, the Festival for Design Ideas. Below is an excerpt of my 20 minute presentation and above is a micro-documentary filmed by Design Matters. Through it I discuss my thoughts about the critical role of design in improving the types of therapeutic technologies that are being developed in the world.
Does Design Matter with Leah Heiss
Developed by Design Matters after my presentation at AG Ideas 2013
Leah Heiss introduces design that saves lives - agIdeas 2013
Polarity at GOMA
Polarity was developed for the National New Media Art Award at GOMA in August 2012. The work is the latest in a series of works using nano-engineered magnetic liquid (Ferro Fluid) as a central part of a dynamic installation. Polarity and its precursor Polarise (far left), are dynamic installations of hand-blown glass vessels and magnetic liquid which reacts to the presence of magnetic field.
The Arsenic project was developed in collaboration with Nanotechnology Victoria during an Arts Victoria AIR Residency in 2007-8. The Arsenic Neckpiece and water vessels house mesoporous iron oxide (Fe2O3) which remove arsenic and other hazardous chemicals from drinking water. They are designed for people in transit in countries where arsenic is prevalent in found water - such as India and Bangladesh.
Drift is a series of handheld interactive elements that investigate social behaviours. They were developed for the Super Human exhibition at RMIT Gallery in 2009. The luminescent pods pulsate softly - beckoning one to pick them up – engaging our curiosity. When curiosity overcomes and we pick the pods up they react to the holder in playful, confronting and unexpected ways. Drift questions how through imbuing our artefacts with interactivity we may actually be giving them personality traits – the capacity to behave in erratic, complex and unforseen ways. The devices that make up Drift utilise nano-engineered electroluminescent cable, which is activated by sensors.
‘Ether Beat’ encompasses a range of compatible garments and artefacts that sense and transmit heartbeat, facilitating a remote sense of empathy between physically distant loved ones. The garments allow you to ‘wear’ the heartbeat of your remote friend/lover/relative while the Hand Hearts are hand-held devices that beat with the remote heartwave. The research was interested in facilitating both physiological and emotional empathy and was developed during my Masters of Design 2004-2006.
This micro-documentary was developed as part of CUSP - Designing into the next decade, an exhibition of the work of 12 future-focused designers, curated and produced by Object - the Australian Design Centre. CUSP has travelled around Australia from 2012 - 2015. This micro-documentary, created by Pat Abboud, looks at the role of design in developing human centred medical devices. I also discuss my future plans - to continue working with large health care providers; to develop projects that have an impact in developing nations; and to work on projects that interface directly with the brain.
Object CUSP 2013
During 2009 I was funded by the Australia Council to develop Material Poetic: creating jewellery-scale artefacts with materials ‘at the extremes of the poetic spectrum’, including shape change metals - which manipulate form when warmed, and magnetic liquid - which changes shape in the presence of a magnetic field. Through the project I had also hoped to develop jewellery from Aerogel (99.6% air) andcarbon nanotubes (one of the strongest material on earth). However, through material-led testing I found that these materials were near impossible to work with. Carbon nanotubes need to be ‘grown’ in laboratory conditions and Aerogel (which is used as an insulation material on spacecraft) can be purchased but due to its intensely brittle nature cannot be cut without exploding into fragments.
Thin Skin is an ongoing material investigation into how conductive materials can be used to enrich our experience of physical space. Thin Skin is a tessellated fabric surface made from conductive lycra (which can conduct electricity) that responds to human presence; as passers by press on Thin Skin - with hands, elbows, arms, faces, feet - they inadvertently activate real-time visualisations and audio experience. Photographs by Narelle Sheean
Inner’ was developed during the ANAT reSkin Wearable Technologies Laboratory in early 2007. It deals with issues of intrapersonal understanding - focussing on foibles, oddities, idiosyncrasies and eccentricities that may allude to emotional state. The garment senses a nervous habit – in this case touching the sternum – through the sensitive gingko brooch at the neck. This information is transmuted into an internal output: softly activating solenoids which tap against the ribcage, and an external output: subtle pulsating optic fibre along the stomach. It allows for an awareness of our non-conscious behaviours and is the continuation of a series of projects which investigate delicate technologies which augment our relationship with the world and people within it.
Materials: Silk Organza, silver, high density foam, solenoids, Arduino microprocessor, electronics, optic fibre