My final project is called DIY BioBot. I’ve been really excited to experiment with bioplastics. On the other hand, I’m very curious about what else Kinect and Arduino can do to involve in this process. So I decide to use bioplastics as a way to make a robot out of household ingredients, and use Kinect and Arduino to vitalize it.


All ingredients I used to make bioplastics includes corn starch, water, corn oil, glycerin, food colors, wax paper, and vinegar. After mixing all ingredients in each batch, I put it into microwave for about 1 minute.


I tried different recipes based on the basic ingredients:
1 tsp corn starch
4 tsp water
1 tsp glycerin

Batch 1
1 tsp corn starch
1 tsp water
1/4 tsp corn oil(probably more than 1/4)

Before: milk white, sticky, moldable, stick together even after breaking them apart


After: flexible, rice yellow, more like a spring roll, looks delicious


Batch 2
1 tsp corn starch
1 tsp water
1/4 corn oil(probably less than 1/4)
1/4 vinegar

Before: chocolate vinegar color&smell, same as batch 1


After: less flexible than batch 1, dryer, probably because of the amount of oil


Batch 3
1 tsp corn starch
2 tsp water
1/4 glycerin
4 drops blue
1 drop green

Before: aztec blue, more water like


After: glycerin hasn’t made much difference yet, but the interesting part is this after cooking, there are two dry layers and the inside layer is more sticky


Batch 4
1 tsp corn starch
4 tsp water
1 tsp glycerin
2 drops red
3 drops yellow

Before: orange, water like


After: jelly like, seems like corn oil makes it more flexible, glycerin makes it more gelatinous


Batch 5
1 tsp sweet potato starch
4 tsp water
1 tsp glycerin(less than 1)
1/2 tsp corn oil
3 drops yellow
1 drop green

Before: lime green, water like


After: wax paper helps to keep the water, corn oil keeps it from drying when exposed to air and more important makes it more flexible, glycerin makes it jelly like, closer to the ideal material I want to use for my Biobot


Batch 6
1 tsp corn starch
4 tsp water
1/2 glycerin
1/2 corn oil
5 drops red(not mix)
1 drop blue(not mix)

Before: deep blue, water like


After: the wax paper box molds the liquid into a square shape and not keep the water from going away and more important easy to take out bioplastic, the texture is almost what I want, but the color is not satisfactory


Best Batch 7
1 tsp corn starch
4 tsp water
1/4 glycerin
1/4 corn oil
4 drops yellow

Before: corn yellow, water like


After: smells like corn, shrinks a little, all of these experiment didn’t shrink much


After trying all these recipes, I found that corn oil keeps it from drying when exposed to air and more important makes it more flexible, while glycerin makes it more gelatinous, and the proportion of corn starch and water decides the solidness of this material. This is the final look of all my experiments.

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After knowing the recipe to my Biobot, I started to make a fake body to detect the bottom line of what kind of human shape Kinect can detect. Firstly, I cut the typical square human shape and used wires to tie different parts but failed.

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Then I polished this shape a little and surprisingly it worked! Although Kinect can only detect certain parts of this body shape, it can be used as the basis of my Biobot.


According to the proportion of human body, I started to cook all main body parts of my Biobot and assembly into an actual human body. Unfortunately the torso was broken in the middle, so I have to cook it again. But the good thing is the texture of this broken torso can be used in other ways owning to its brittleness and solidness.

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Kinect is what I always want to experiment in different projects, but what Kinect does is mainly detecting human body and body movements. So the first thought was to use bioplastic to make a human shape robot. But later I found even if I can detect this human shape with Kinect, there was nothing else I can do with it. So I have to use Arduino to make it move. I originally want to make a Biobot that can play computer games, particularly to wear this Biobot a Kinect that can detect shape and color and also wear this Biobot servos to have it play matching games. Now I realized maybe just using bioplastic and Arduino is a good way to try. Also I want to make it a product that people with instructions can try themselves. So LittleBits can be a good replacement other than Arduino. Anyway, the experiment result is in the following video. The material turns out to be too thin and flexible to be put on servo so I can only put it on the ground and let it control the paper board which my Biobot has to be put on.


I can’t call this experiment a success. But this can be a start for my future improvements, particularly in regards to making this piece a real product that family members can create and play together, which involves from using household ingredients to make a eco-friendly robot, to using existing products like Arduino or LittleBits to control the movements of this robot.

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