Holding Hearts – content review

Holding Hearts is a soft robotic demonstration from Rusty Squid, a soft robotic studio based in the UK.

Describe– The project is a red rubber-like geometric heart that is cut in half. There is a tube connected to the heart and into a box. People on the street are invited to hold the heart in their hands. They seem to enjoy the experience and are amazed or weirded out by it.

Analyze– After seeing the making-of video, it is clear that the heart is made of casted silicone, in a 3D printed mold. There are pneumatic ‘muscles’ placed inside the cast. The box contains pneumatic pumps that make the heart ‘beat’ at the same rate as the person holding the other heart. The overall process shows a mastery of craft in fabricating as well as a strong understanding of how the human heart functions.

Interpret– The piece aims to bring people closer together through a shared experience. The technology is just a medium.

Judge– The piece works as intended. But because it is presented to the audience without context, some of the effect is lost. It would work much better as a museum exhibit with accompanying text or graphics that guide the experience.

Rubrics of success:

The piece was produced by Rusty Squid, a studio specializing in soft robotics for advertising. As such, it needs to be evaluated as more of an advertisement than a person maker project. Some of the rubrics of success are enumerated below:

  • Generate publicity for Rusty Squid
  • Act as a demonstration of their capabilities
  • Deepen ties with Kings College London, for future collaborations

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