Tools for Collaborative Survival – DaraghByrne.me

Daragh Byrne Associate Teaching Professor
School of Architecture, Carnegie Mellon University. Core faculty for MSCD and PhD CD.
Courtesy appointments in the School of Design and the Human Computer Interaction Institute.
Afflilated facilty with the IDeATe network, Block Center for Technology and Society, and CyLab.
Co-Lead of the TRACES Lab. Co-founder and platform lead for a2ru's Ground Works.

Tools for Collaborative Survival

Hand-Substrate Interface
Data HarVest
Spore Stepper
Hand-Substrate Interface in use

Dates 2016 - 2017

Collaborators Jen Liu

As part of the Master of Tangible Interaction Design thesis research, Jen Liu produced a series of wearable tools for mushroom foraging. *"Collaborative Survival"*, a concept coined by anthropologist Anna Tsing, describes how our (human) ability to persist as a species is deeply entangled with and dependent upon the health of a multitude of other species. By applying this concept into design practice, it explores how technology can help humans forge and sustain livable collaborations.

The project explored collaborative survival within the context of designing tools for mushroom foraging and reflect on how interactive products can open new pathways for noticing and joining-with these entanglements towards preferable futures. In addition to highlighting three tactics-engagement, attunement and expansion-that can guide designs towards multispecies flourishing, the prototypes illustrate the potential for wearable technology to extend the body into the environment.

The series included:

  • Hand-Substrate Interface - builds closer connections between tactile experiences and sensing of mycelia
  • Data HarVest - a wearable tactile map that guides wearers to locations of community reported fungi growth. The device supports logging of contextual information during the foray with a GPS tracker to mark places where fungi growth is found.
  • Spore Stepper - Soil collecting walking stick. After a foray, the sample can be germinated or DNA sequenced to determine what fungi species may be present

The work was presented at ACM CHI 2018 and was given a best paper award.

Find out more


Related Publications



Liu, J., Byrne, D., Devendorf, L. (2018) Design for Collaborative Survival: An Inquiry into Human- Fungi Relationships In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’18) Best Paper Award Winner