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Electrical engineer and artist, Tom Hobson explores biosensing in new workshop

Meet, Tom Hobson, electrical engineer and artist from Toronto. Recently, he joined the team at Launchpad as a Studio Tech in the Digital Fabrications studio. Tom has worked extensively in wearable electronics at the University of Toronto and at InteraXon developing Muse, a brain-sensing EEG headband, from the ground up. He even made musical shoes one time. He has worked on many aspects of electronics design and manufacturing, from prototyping to art installations to mass manufacturing. And he just loves making things.

We caught up with Tom to find out more about his background.

What drew you to electrical engineering?

Tom: I studied electrical engineering because I was interested in making media art and wanted to know everything I could about how to do it!

How does your background as an electrical engineer intersect with your work as an artist? 

Tom: A lot of my work involves a technical aspect. It ranges from making wearables and brain sensors, to carpentry, to software development, to running a DIY TV station. The engineering education really helps me be able to approach most technical problems confidently even if I don’t have direct experience with a specific topic.

On October 22, you are leading a Creative Studio Workshop,  Biosensing workshop. What are some interesting projects that you have worked on with this technology? 

Tom: I worked on the design and manufacturing the Muse, a brain sensing headband that trains you to meditate. So that involved testing and tweaking the sensitive analog electronics of the sensor, understanding how the human body emits electrical signals, building infrastructure to ensure its reliability in manufacturing, making demonstration installations of what the device could do and more. I also worked on an experimental brain-computer interface at University of Toronto that we called the MindMesh, an EEG headset that would (theoretically at least :wink:) massage your head with different patterns according to your brain state. It was pretty zany but a lot of fun.

Tom’s Biosensing: Control LED Strip with Your Heart Rate workshop runs from 4pm to 8pm. Participants will learn to control lights by programming with Arduino software and the Trinket microcontroller, and using a pulse sensor to synchronize the LEDs with the heartbeat. Space is limited so register early!

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