Paintbrush changes its attributes to meet the needs of an artist.
Inspiration from Nature
Petromyzontiformes have neurons in their spine which help them adapt to the direction and force of water currents.
Technological advancement in Arts is still significantly smaller than in everyday utility. Not too long ago, we had to carry a feature phone, mp3 player, digital camera and storage disk, etc. but now a smartphone suffices. In fine arts, there is still a large set of brushes with varying forms and sizes. Technically, they may vary in their toe, bristle, belly, heel, and handle. We need a single brush that can adapt to the changing nature of strokes.
There are several phenomena in nature that give us a direction toward solving this problem. The skin of the mammals for instance, acts as a complex adaptive system- capable of performing multiple tasks. But the skin of a lamprey (Petromyzontiformes) exhibits an inspiring new technology. There are CPG’s (central pattern generator) neurons in the spine of a lamprey. They help the organism adapt itself to both the direction and force of the current. One could say that the relationship between a lamprey and water is like the one between a dandelion and air. Both life-forms are highly adaptable to the dynamic forces of their context. In order to have a brush that mimics lamprey, one must break down the components of the painting process itself.
Significant technological milestones have been achieved stylus industry. Apple pencil for instance, features fast and precise sensors for tilt and pressure. But such technologies one way or another, depending upon the surface on which they draw. A fine artist should not be restricted by the nature of a canvas. The texture of a canvas alone, is an important part of the artwork. A brush must not be connected to a surface but instead be receptive to the sensory input of hand. It should function as an extension of a hand (and mind).
Paintbrush senses the gestures of a hand holding it (firmness of the grip and its distance from bristle etc.) and changes its characteristics (breadth and stiffness of the fibers etc.) to achieve the intended stroke.
The nature gadget has bristles (11) which function like a lamprey. They take input from
A. The way an artist holds the brush, position of his/her wrist and grip.
B. The distance of the grip from the tip of the bristle (28, 47).
C. The firmness of the grip (23, 26, 47).
D. The broadness of intended stroke (52, 54) as a factor of pressure exerted on the surface (or on a certain holding area of the brush). And
E. Stiffness in the fibers (56, 58) as a function of precision.
Like any complex adaptive system, this nature gadget does not rely solely on the instructions from the brain but is Capable of re-organizing its algorithm with respect to the changing gestures of a hand.
The following are some useful resources from the design process of this nature gadget.
Row1Column1: Closeup of Lamprey
Row1Column2: Lamprey’s Adaptation to Currents
Row1Column3: Lamprey’s Body Movement
Row1Column4: Undulation Amplitude from Head to Tail
Row2Column1: Study on Undulatory Locomotion
Row2Column2: Different Grips for Holding Brush
Row2Column3: Schematics of Brush Structure
Row2Column4: Variations in Water Capacity of Brush
Row3Column1: Kerastase Smart Hair Brush
Row3Column2: Braun Oral-B Smart Toothbrush Series
Row3Column3: Apple Pencil Sensors for Pressure and Tilt
Row3Column4: Smart Fibers’ Temperature and Pressure Sensors
Row4Column1: Smart Fibers’ Strain Sensor (Concept)
Row4Column2: Tangram Smart Rope
Row4Column3: Electro Active Polymers
Row4Column4: Electro Active Polymer Gel