Augmented reality for the engineering of collective behaviours in microsystems

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Contribution (Conference Proceeding)

2 Citations (Scopus)
53 Downloads (Pure)


Microsystems composed of responsive particles or even living cells often operate in large numbers to perform tasks beyond the capabilities of each individual. Engineering collective behaviours in such systems could lead to breakthroughs in medicine, or entirely new applications. Key to many collective behaviours is the ability for micro-agents to communicate with their neighbours through chemical signaling, energy transfer (e.g. heat), or modification of the environment (stigmergy). However, implementing such communication modalities is typically challenging and time consuming. To simplify this process, we propose to use augmented reality (AR) to implement a new form of communication channel using light. Our AR Dynamic Optical Micro-Environment (AR Dome) is able to provide micro-agents with varying communication ranges and the ability to modify their environment in complex ways. AR is achieved through a custom made closed-loop system based on an ultra violet (UV) light projector and imaging apparatus. Using AR DOME, we show how micro-particles can be endowed with new communication capabilities and demonstrate propagation of an AR-based light communication signal through a population of micro-particles.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2019 IEEE International Conference on Manipulation, Automation and Robotics at Small Scales (MARSS 2019)
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
Number of pages6
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Jul 2019

Structured keywords

  • BrisSynBio
  • Bristol BioDesign Institute


  • Augmented Reality
  • Light-based communication
  • Swarm engineering


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