Emily Wagenknecht

Under Pressure

Where does the pressure sensor come from?


Introduction to Computational Media,Introduction to Physical Computing

Whenever I make something using something like the pressure sensor, I find myself getting caught up in a series of questions… Where does it come from? How is it made? Who makes it?

I want to explore these questions by creating a program in which the user interacts with the pressure sensor and it triggers a processing sketch that is informed by it.

I recently emailed the people at Interlink Electronics (who make the pressure sensors) to ask for more information. I was informed that they are made in China, and “the inside surface of one substrate is coated with FSR® carbon-based ink.”

What is carbon-based ink I asked? The ink is typically derived from either gum arabic (which typically comes from Sub-Saharan Africa) or animal glue (which is created by prolonged boiling of animal connective tissues, mainly horses).

While the pen in my hand may very well also be coated in animal glue, there is something different about the relationship I have with the pressure sensor. I am not just the consumer, I am also the designer. which is a dangerous combination in the light of ignorance. It raises the question as one of my fellow ITP-ers so eloquently put it, \"how many people does it take to do it yourself?\"