Bio Mapping with Christian Nold at the Science Museum

Yesterday was an amazing day. I headed down to the Science Museum in London to facilitate the start of the BBC Blast Science Week which is being held over five days between the Science Museum’s Dana Centre and the Serpentine Gallery.

In the morning I worked to facilitate the bonding of the group of 18 young people, who were from all over the region and not met each other before. I started by challenging the young people to undertake our “12 Photo’s” digital creativity challenge in groups after asking each person in the room to recollect their earliest memory.

In the afternoon I had the absolute pleasure to witness the work of Christian Nold in one of his fields of work, Bio Mapping.

Christian says on his website:

Bio Mapping is a research project which explores new ways that we as individuals can make use of the information we can gather about our own bodies. Instead of security technologies that are designed to control our behaviour, this project envisages new tools that allows people to selectively share and interpret their own biometric data.

The Bio Mapping tool allows the wearer to record their Galvanic Skin Response (GSR), which is a simple indicator of the emotional arousal in conjunction with their geographical location. This can be used to plot a map that highlights point of high and low arousal. By sharing and reflecting on this data, we can construct maps that visualise where we as a community feel stressed and excited.

How will our perceptions of our community and environment change when we become aware of our own and each others intimate body states?

So what do you do with 18 young people and an afternoon? We sent them off round London (with adults) wired up to Christian’s Bio Mapping equipment. In pairs the young people walked around a region surrounding the Science Museum with a A Galvanic Skin response sensor/data logger on a finger which was connected up to a commercial GPS unit (more about the technology here).alli.jpg

The data captured by the technology includes the sweat levels from the walkers finger, and the exact location (in the world) where they are. On return to the Science Museum Christian downloads all the data and feeds it into Google Earth.

Here is a screen grab from Alli’s Map as it is in Google Earth —>

The spikes demonstrate Alli’s level of anxiety along the route as he reaches a busy road to cross. On other group members maps from the day we noticed that those walking through Hyde Park felt much calmer with less spikes appearing in the map.
The devices detect the change rates of the galvanic skin response.

On Christians FAQ page he states the following:

When its hot outside or you are exercising it simply raises your baseline but your GSR still changes according to mental events. Believe me I tested it myself in Bangalore, India 🙂

If during the middle of your walk you suddenly started running you would see a momentary arousal increase which would flatten out again pretty quickly.

Click to leave this site and watch Christian’s Documentary.

Click here to review the pictures I took on my phone camera.

Or check out the below phone camera movies I took during the day…

One thought on “Bio Mapping with Christian Nold at the Science Museum

  • Geraint
    March 2, 2007 at 6:00 am

    Very interesting-thank you for sharing this Matt. 🙂 The results obtained by the subjects walking in Hyde Park would confirm what many of us knew about the need for parklands in urban areas in order to help ‘de-stress’ us. Christian’s work adds to the observations and published work of scientists such as Desmond Morris, particularly his comparison of the built-up environment to the confines of a zoo, where he cites examples of stressful behaviour he attributes to grouping many of us within cities and towns.

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