is a designer and engineer currently based in London. In 2018, he graduated from the Royal College of Art and Imperial College with an MA/MSC in innovation design engineering, following an MEng in France.

Using the mediums of writing and interaction technologies, he explores the junction of human-centred concerns and complex systems. His research interests include: futurecasting, speculative and critical design and ethnographic user-research.

Applying his knowledge of design, technology and fabrication, he regularly works with contemporary artists to bring their ideas to fruition. 

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DOC 234—34/2

AUTHORS: Arthur Gouillart, Mick Geerits, Duncan Carter, Eirini Maliaraki

KEYWORDS: Wildlife, Robotics, Biotags, Ecosystem engineers, Endangered species, Biodiversity

Geneva Public Library, CH (2019)
Dutch Design Week, Eindhoven NL (2018)
Dezeen, online (2018)
The rate of extinction is about a thousand times what it used to be before humans. One species goes extinct every 5 minutes; over the past 30 years 75% of all insects have become extinct; 95% of all large predatory fish that once roamed the seas are now gone. The event that encompasses these changes has been dubbed the 6th mass extinction, however the major difference between the 6th and the previous five is that this one has been induced by humans.

The ‘Augmented Nature’ project was carried out in close collaboration with scientists, whose aim was to develop the next generation of high-tech biotags able to augment the capacities of endangered species. A set of robotic tools within a biotag affixed to the animal, ‘Augmented Nature’ is an active solution that enables so-called ‘ecosystem engineer’ species to survive danger and reclaim their own habitats. The resilience of an ecosystem is strongly related to its biodiversity; ecosystem engineers are species that engineer their environment and behave as connective nodes within the ecosystem. A beaver, for example, builds a dam and creating wetlands that form the habitat for hundreds of other species. By actively enhancing these natural capabilities in endangered species that are ecosystem engineers, we may be able to address to the sharp decline in biodiversity.

This speculative intervention seeks to raise questions about interventionist approaches to conservation, the value of animal autonomy, and the convergence of nature and technology. shed a new light on how we interact with other species. 


Current advances in biologging technology have enabled scientists to passively gather ocean data and glean more insights about whale behaviour. The improved biotag proposed in ‘Augmented Nature’ that is attached to the whale does more than collect data on noise, depth and position. Featuring an integrated underwater speaker, the tag is able to actively communicate with the whale, using sound to alert them to the positions of nearby ships.


The improved biotag proposed in ‘Augmented Nature’ enhances the ecosystem engineering capacities of peccaries, enabling them to rebuild their habitats and improve biodiversity. Using vibrations, the biotag is able to convey information about the forest, and guide peccaries towards de-forested areas where they can disperse seeds. In retrieving data associated with peccary seed dispersal, the biotag would also possess the capacity to locate valuable new resources in the forest. Fruits and herbs for example, which may be useful to the local communities and can offer new income sources as an alternative to logging.

© Arthur Gouillart, unless otherwise stated