by Anna Grenman, Isabella MacKenzie, Matteo Maccario, Linh Pahm and Xiao Xiao
Microsonic is a project about listening to your gut in order to gain a comprehensive understanding of its health and internal interactions. We are interested in understanding the gut as part of a larger system, how it communicates within the entire microbiome, the gut-brain axis, and how microbial gut changes affect the host’s health and behaviour.
The microbiome’s effect on the host is a widely explored subject that is currently spawning many (some speculative) research projects, and the connection between gut bacteria and our health is revealing to be much more broad and complex than previously understood, with imbalances of the microbiome being seen as a potential cause in many illnesses, e.g. obesity, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety and depression.
We believe that a non-invasive research method that allows the individual, or the physician, to track and observe the gut over time, would not only be beneficial to this area of research but also provide an exciting opportunity to develop personalised health care for the gut. Nourish the microorganisms for prologned health and listen to your gut.
In studying the microbiome, we noticed an absence of sonic sensing & interaction as a research method, meaning this a new field to explore and develop. Interpreting gut sounds of the digestive tract through contractions and potentially, in the future, listen to the microbes themselves, which also communicate and interact sonically. In drawing from the discipline of spectography (a technique of interpreting the timbre of sound), and using this technique to not only observe biodiversity but also visualising the data with a spectogram (an image comprised of densities and colour tonalities relating to the sonic data).
The interpretation of the data could be very intuitive and time specific unique to the user and would feedback into a user interface showing which foods aggravate the system, what time to eat is optimal and provide warning to a potential onset of IBS, for instance. Our product would not only provide a safe, non-invasive personalised diagnostic tool but also have the potential to couple collected data with other areas such as neurology to provide further information on the intrinsic link between the gut and the brain.
The wider implications of this line of work is exploring interspecies communication, designing food consumption for both microbes and humans, as well as exploring the effects of noise pollution on our health, and the health of our bacteria. The effect of the neural activity and the electric impulses that travel through the bacteria due to the digestive tract muscle contractions and the neural communication in the gut also become research areas with this method.