Ants are Earth’s dominant animal, but their ubiquitous networks go unnoticed by humans. This project helps us feel their presence by viscerally connecting with a superorganism.
The project is realized as a set of three types of wearable ant-farms that invert the agency between humans and ants: a) Wearable Ant-Farm Accessories: the first stage redesigns traditional scientific formicaria (ant-farms) into small wearable devices—like watches, hats, and shoes—embedded with sensors monitoring ambient features of the enclosed colonies. The sensed data is mapped to haptic actuators that let humans feel real-time changes as the colony eats, sleeps, and forages. b) Full Formicarium Suit: Multiple “accessory” designs are merged to create a full-body ant-farm suit for an entirely immersive experience. c) Open-Embedded Formicarium: The final design type installs the full-body haptic-suit in the rainforest atop a wild leaf-cutter ant mound. The suit redirects the normal ant paths through its sensors. This lets ants freely forage, while removing human agency, making them the accessory, and completing the role-reversal of human-ant co-actors.
Dr. Andrew Quitmeyer is a hacker adventurer studying intersections between wild animals and computational devices. He started his own Field Station Makerspace in Gamboa, Panama: Digital Naturalism Laboratories where he blends biological fieldwork and DIY digital crafting with a community of scientists, artists, designers, and engineers from around the world. He runs mobile workshops called “Hiking Hacks” where participants build interactive technology in outdoor, natural contexts.