Marei Wollersberger was showing two projects at the Great Exhibition. The first one was a development of the Biosafe Apparatus she had first presented a few months ago at the Design Interactions interim show.
Biosafe Habitat explores people’s hopes and fears related to emerging technology and our increased safety demands.
Focusing on perceived domestic security in times of potential bioterrorist and chemical attacks, Marei’s proposal is to use animals as biosensors, that would allow us to check if our home is really safe from external influences. The idea was inspired by miners who used to take canaries with them to monitor the air quality. When the bird died, they knew the air was toxic and they had to retreat from the mine.
To protect the home from attacks on the water supply, fish as biosensors would be living in the water supply system, more precisely in a kind of aquarium located by the tap.
The fish would have to be a GloFish, a brand of genetically modified zebrafish that starts fluorescing when exposed to contamination. Although not originally developed for ornamental home uses, it is the first GM animal to become publicly available (only in certain countries such as the US) as a pet. This could lead to new behaviours such as presenting your guests with a jug of water with a living fish swimming inside it as a sign that you are offering them safe water.
Now how about the rest of the house?
Cockroaches have hairy feet that can pick up much faster than humans the smallest traces of everything from airborne contamination to biological and chemical agents.
Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches are the prefered species. A special nesting box would have to be installed in the house as the insect require a certain amount of humidity and heat to breed and thrive. You’d just need one or two of them so it is not as if you are opening the door to an un-controllable pest. In case of suspicion, the animals can be released and their hairy feet will collect evidence of any trace of potentially harmful substance. The home owner would them catch them back (apparently the roaches find the smell of coffee irresistible) and check if the substances under their feet present traces of potentially harmful substances.