SCOBY Breastplate


We present an interactive breastplate grown and fabricated from SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast) biofilm over the course of 13 weeks.

Challenging the fail-fast and rapid prototyping trends that inhabit Human-Computer Interaction research, we instead explore what it means to design at the pace of another living organism. To create our wearable, we combined DIY-Bio knowledge with digital fabrication methods and traditional crafting techniques in order to tune aspects of the SCOBY such as strength, flexibility, shape, color, and electrical conductivity.

We then embedded sensors and LEDs within the SCOBY to create a wearable that visually signals based on touch interactions. We demonstrate the interactivity of the breastplate in an everyday context, where differing light responses result from the wearer being hugged, tapped, or brushed. Lastly, we analyze the biodegradability of the SCOBY breastplate and observe the limitations and opportunities of SCOBY as a grown microbial interface.


Fiona Bell, Derrek Chow, Hyelin Choi, Mirela Alistar. SCOBY Breastplate: Slowly Growing a Microbial Interface. The ACM International Conference on Tangible, Embedded and Embodied Interaction (TEI 2023). 15 pages.

© Derrek Chow 2022