PhyBox: A Programmable Interface for Physarum Polycephalum-based Memristors
Edward Braund, Satvik Venkatesh and Eduardo R. Miranda
Biological computing prototypes do not often leave the confines of research laboratories, which limits their immersion into real-world applications and hinders our ability to fully understand their potential. Such a situation is usually a result of the volatile nature of the substrate and the resources and expertise required to implement the prototype. In this paper, we introduce the ‘PhyBox’: a programmable interface for harnessing biological memristors. PhyBox is a step towards providing non-experts, D.I.Y. prototyping enthusiasts, and engineers with an accessible platform for experimenting with biological processing using memristors. This paper serves as a precursor to making such a system publicly available. The system builds on our previous work into developing convenient methods of harnessing the myxomycete Physarum polycephalum as a memristive component. Over the past decade, this organism has proven to be an accessible addition to the field of Unconventional Computing. PhyBox utilises a Raspberry Pi and a selection of inexpensive breakout boards to create a standalone system that is cased in a 3D printed box to provide robust portability. Within the paper, we provide details on the device’s hardware, software, and testing. We also demonstrate the deployment of the system in a creative musical application.
Keywords: PhyBox, memristors, creative technology, unconventional computing, physarum polycephalum