Good, better, breast: Building a sensing mastectomy prosthetic with open hardware

Good, better, breast: Building a sensing mastectomy prosthetic with open hardware

Kathy Reid

In Australia every year, around 18,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer [1]. Many will go on to have breast removal surgery, called a mastectomy. Only 12% of women who have a mastectomy will have reconstruction, and will instead opt to wear a silicon-based prosthetic.

These prosthetics are “dumb” – they’re just silicone. They have 0 USB ports. What a great opportunity for open hardware!

As part of her term project in the Masters of Applied Cybernetics at the 3A Institute at The Australian National University, Kathy Reid, herself a breast cancer survivor, developed a prototype called “SenseBreast” – a sensing, smart, mastectomy prosthetic based on an RPi 3B+ and a Sense HAT. This was a “mucking around” project to learn Python, and she didn’t expect it to work.
Narrator: It worked.

In this poignant, funny, challenging, technical, entertaining and irreverent presentation, she explores;

– motivations for the project, including a desire to keep sensor data private and personal – after all, who’s watching?
– hardware design and sensor challenges in open hardware and Python
– prosthetic design and how to build a fake breast to contain hardware
– lived experience wearing a smart prosthetic
– implications for this technology, such as in post-mastectomy recovery
– and reflections on the broader landscape of wearable technology

[1] is a conference about the Linux operating system, and all aspects of the thriving ecosystem of Free and Open Source Software that has grown up around it. Run since 1999, in a different Australian or New Zealand city each year, by a team of local volunteers, LCA invites more than 500 people to learn from the people who shape the future of Open Source. For more information on the conference see

Produced by NDV: #linux #foss #opensource

Wed Jan 15 13:30:00 2020 at Room 7


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