Interview with Dr Ben Hanson


Ben Hanson works in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at University College London as a lecturer and researcher. I visited him to hear about his work, which includes developing a device which will attach to damaged hearts, to help them pump effectively.

Ben is also interested in building a mechatronic heart which links to software on a computer. The effects of forces upon the model can be measured using the software, while the software can effect the behaviour of the model in a realsitic way, aiding the development of new assistive devices.

At the core of Ben's work is an exploration of potential relationships between biological, electro-mechanical and computational systems - how they interact and effect each other.


heart simulator

above: Terminator is a mechanical device built to understand the movements of a beating heart, click for larger image and a video showing the movement (windows media required)

heart sock

above: A mechanical heart sock can stimulate contractions in a weak heart, larger image

heart wave

above: Rendered frames from a 3-D animation showing the wave movement of a beating heart


The clips below are rough and ready cuts from our conversation, and provide more insight into what Ben does. And excuse my loud voice, I need to get a directional mic.

Click to see movies, Quicktime 7 is required.

If you have any comments or questions about these clips, you can visit the forum.




above: Ben describes how his work creates a relationship between software and physical things.




above: About the device which assists weak hearts




above: A mechanical model of how a heart moves, and how it is used as a tool for development




above: Ben mentions how he would like to improve the visuals created by his software




above: I prompt Ben for an overview of his research interests




above: How Ben started doing what he does, and how his interests have developed




above: A description of how implanted devices are powered




above: There are always things going on at the periphery that lead to new research directions




above: Away from the body - a quick look at one of these side interests


heart wave

above: Ben's drawing off a cafetiere is on the office wall, perhaps a reminder of coffee when he's too busy to make some


Intervew by Tobie on 4th May 2007.