Data Visualization. Cool S***.

Posted on February 4, 2011 by admin

So, while attending an AIGA lecture last month entitled Data Visualization: Methods and Madness I listened to Kate Carmody, the first speaker of the evening, promote Talk to Me, an upcoming exhibition she’s curating at the MoMA. Kate’s presentation explored how people interact with objects, during which she referenced probably the best thing I’ve ever seen…multi-hued poo.

Maybe I love this because it’s a socially inappropriate blog topic. Okay but, it’s also an amazing idea. Designers Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg and James King, in collaboration with Cambridge University’s International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGem) team, created a low-cost diagnostic kit that employs a pigment-producing strain of E.coli whose colorful secretions can be seen by the human eye.

iGem developed the bacteria, but it was Alexandra and James who took this technology and helped the team find useful, human-centric applications for the little guys. Here’s the concept. You ingest E.chromi bacteria in the form of a capsule or delicious yogurt and subsequently they populate within your digestive tract, mingling with your internal flora. If all is healthy, they’ll secrete a pigment that turns your turd blue. If the bacteria encounter a chemical change caused by disease, they’ll produce other colors indicative of that abnormality. Ideally the bacteria could be personalized to mark for diseases based on an individual’s genetic susceptibility. Does your family have a history of colon cancer? You’d be able to test for that in your home!

Visualize this. Affordable, comfortable self-diagnostics replacing current, often invasive and/or expensive technologies. It’s an incredible application that, although presently lacking implemental logistics, would change the dynamic of many health care systems. Let’s make this real, folks. I want my very own scatalog.