Alan Macy is currently the Research and Development Director, past President and a founder of BIOPAC Systems, Inc. BIOPAC is a biomedical instrumentation developer and manufacturer based in Goleta, California. He has been R&D Director since 2008 and is responsible for managing the development of new hardware and software products for BIOPAC’s biomedical instrumentation equipment offerings for Universities and institutional development labs. He is also responsible for coordinating technical certification efforts including those for medical equipment – IEC60601 and for CE marking – Safety and Electromagnetic Compatibility Standards.
Currently, Macy’s primary project development efforts are focused on the areas of multi-channel physiological measurement, digital wireless transmission systems and new sensor development. He has been active in clothing design to support ergonomic methods for ambulatory physiological measurement along with the associated investigated use of “smart” materials, such as conductive fabrics and other textiles that can be employed as flexible and compatible transducers.
Macy is involved in the development of new products for the purposes of recording physiological variables in the Magnetic Resonance Imager (MRI) and functional MRI and during virtual reality (VR) sessions. He has developed amplifiers and signal processing methods to remove artifact from biopotential signals recorded in the MRI. In the area of VR, he has been focusing effort on implementation methods to monitor physiological variables during VR protocols and then employ algorithmic results, from these variables, to modify the VR subject experience.
Macy has designed systems to monitor the electrical signals generated by the heart, neuronal activity of the brain, eye motion (due to the corneal-retinal potential), skeletal and intestinal muscle. He has developed systems and transducers to monitor additional physiological variables, such as electrodermal activity, vasodilation/constriction, respiration, oxygen consumption, carbon dioxide production, cardiac output, skin temperature, blood oxygen levels, isometric strength, joint angle, 3D acceleration and respiratory airflow. He has developed haptic, optical, electric and auditory-based stimulation systems designed to support evoked response type measurements. He has established digital signal processing methods, and associated algorithms, to extract meaningful data from physiological signals.
From 1990 to 2008, Macy was President of BIOPAC Systems, where he directed corporate and engineering management, developed general administrative and department specific management structures and evaluated budgets and timelines for technical product development. He was one of the founders of BIOPAC, in 1984, as a joint undertaking with fellow students from Cal Poly State University San Luis Obispo and UCSB.
During the course of BIOPAC’s growth, Macy has designed and developed transducer, amplifier and data acquisition systems employed in the service of life science education and research. These systems are used in educational curriculum ranging from high school to graduate studies and in research laboratories of universities, medical device manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies. BIOPAC educational and research systems are sold worldwide and have been cited in thousands of references. BIOPAC educational curriculum and laboratory teaching systems are presented in all major college-based physiology laboratory textbooks and have been translated into multiple languages.
In 1980, Macy received a Bachelor of Science degree in Electronics Engineering from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. In 1978, he was selected as an engineering intern for a six-month assignment in the magnetic recording group, at IBM, San Jose, CA. In the summer of 1979, he worked as an electronics technician for California Instruments, a manufacturer of engineering test equipment. His senior thesis work at Cal Poly culminated in the development of an isolated word, speech recognition system.
In 1983, Macy obtained a Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from UCSB. His areas of emphasis were in digital signal processing and biomedical engineering. His thesis work, built upon his efforts at Cal Poly, evolved the development of a speech recognition system by adding sound processing characteristics associated with the human ear. While at UCSB, he interned at InfoMag, Inc. and developed a series of very low noise magnetic recording head signal amplifiers. The amplifiers incorporated discrete, cascode-based, transistor front-ends to optimize bandwidth and signal to noise ratio.
From 1980 to 1990, Macy worked as a teaching assistant at UCSB and as an instructor at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara City College. He led laboratories and taught classes in electronic circuit design, control systems, networks, programming, power engineering and physics. During this period he founded Pacific Design and Instrument (PDI), an engineering consulting firm that provided electronic instrumentation design services to local companies. While working at PDI, he developed portable, stand-alone systems used to perform human-based physiological measurements for psycho-physiological research. He also developed electronic hardware for performing automated, high-speed visual recognition and sorting for the bottle recycling industry via consulting contract with Industrial Automation, Carpinteria, CA. He also consulted for Maripro Inc., Goleta, CA, to develop a very low-noise passive sonar amplifier for the AUTEC installation on Andros Island, Florida.
While in college at Cal Poly, SLO and in later adult education programs, Macy concentrated effort in a series of art classes including clay sculpture, glass blowing, silver and gold jewelry casting and large-scale bronze metal casting.
From 1983 to 1990, Macy was employed at Applied Magnetics, Inc. – a magnetic recording head manufacturer in Goleta, CA. Macy worked in both the Design Engineering and Research and Development departments. While in Design Engineering, he worked on studies to analyze disk head air bearing flying height and aerodynamic transient performance. In the Research and Development department, he worked as a specialist in the areas of magnetic recording disk head modeling and signal processing. He developed three-dimensional magnetic head computer models for the purpose of improving disk head read and write performance. For R&D support of manufacturing, he worked on the development of automated lapping systems for the manufacture of thin-film disk heads and he helped develop a preliminary automated visual inspection system based on digital image processing methods. He was principally responsible for the creation and development of a specialized disk head and recording media analysis (DHARMA) system used for the purpose of advancing the bit storage capacity of computer hard disk drives. The DHARMA test system permitted the testing of a variety of disk head media with thin-film inductive and magneto-resistive type read/write heads. The DHARMA system incorporated precision air-bearing spindles, cross-roller bearing positioning actuators and very low noise read/write electronics.
From 1992 to 1994, Macy participated on the Summer Solstice Celebration Board as Treasurer. The Summer Solstice Celebration is a non-profit arts organization devoted to supporting and enhancing the once-per-year Summer Solstice Parade in Santa Barbara.
In 1997, Macy joined the Board of the Westside Neighborhood Medical Clinic, a non-profit medical clinic that provides medical services to those uninsured and underserved in the local Santa Barbara community. From 1998 to 1999, Macy was the Board Chair. In 1998, he was elected to participate with the transition team chartered to merge three regional non-profit medical clinics. He was on the Board of the merged organization, the Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics (SBNC), from 1999 to 2005. While participating with SBNC, he had been actively involved in the finance, bylaws, nomination, facilities and personnel committees. Between 1999 and 2005, SBNC added dental services and built two new community medical facilities to expand operations.
Macy is presently a senior member of the IEEE Engineering and Medicine and Biology Society. He was an invited speaker, for the BME session, to the 23rd, 25th and 27th International Conferences of IEEE, Engineering in Medicine and Biology in Istanbul, Turkey; Cancun, Mexico and Shanghai, China, respectively. In year 2000, he participated with and traveled on behalf of a Biomedical Engineering Delegation to China. In 2005, he was invited to speak at Vietnam’s first Engineering in Medicine and Biology Conference, held in Ho Chi Minh City.
From 2004 to 2009, Macy was a member of the Waldorf School of Santa Barbara Board of Directors. In this capacity, he helped organize school budgets, create and review operational procedures and mediate employee disputes. In 2005, he joined the CARES Foundation Board of Directors. The CARES Foundation’s charter promotes education and research associated with Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH).
In 2005, Macy began participating with Fishbon, an artist/technologist/designer collaborative in Santa Barbara. In 2006, he worked with Fishbon to open a collaborative art-space in Santa Barbara known as the Pescadrome. Fishbon hosts an ongoing series of salons and art events at Pescadrome and other locations in the Santa Barbara area. In 2007, he was principally involved with the formal incorporation of Fishbon as a not-for-profit organization. He is presently on the Board of Directors of Fishbon.
In 2005, with Fishbon, Macy began working on a series of kinetic and interactive flame sculptures. In 2006, he was invited to present a series of four interactive flame sculptures, for the first Fire Arts Exposition in San Francisco, sponsored by the Black Rock Arts Foundation. He was commissioned for a seven-piece flame sculpture art installation at the Crucible’s 2007 Fire Arts Festival in Oakland.
From 2006 to 2009, Macy worked with Fishbon to develop and implement a series of art exhibitions held at the Pescadrome and throughout Santa Barbara. These art events consisted of large-scale art installations, music and cabaret performance. In 2007, he attended STEIM, in Amsterdam, Netherlands, as an artist-in-residence. He participated in informal presentations at STEIM focusing on the use of bio-interfaces for electronic music creation. STEIM is an educational and performance venue, as well as a research and development center for instruments and tools used by performers in the electronic music arts.
Also, in 2007, Macy was a guest scientist on the “Super Strength” National Geographic television program. He applied BIOPAC equipment to measure physiological variables from “Strong Man” contestants as they performed different tasks. Throughout 2007, he worked with the Science Museum of Minnesota, to help develop a traveling exhibit “Goosebumps, the Science of Fear”, by supporting the development of a series of physiologically-based interfaces to measure electrodermal activity, pulse plethysmogram and the electrocardiogram for the purposes of illustrating the body’s reaction to fear.
In October of 2007, Macy participated as an advisor for a conference and physical installation on metabolic networks at the Architecture Department of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Metabolic network investigations juxtapose the physiological concepts of anabolism (building up) and catabolism (breaking down) for the purposes of new architectural research into structures that can change nature in response to varying environmental conditions. This evolving area encourages fusion between the practices of architecture and electronics engineering, especially as applied to control systems, actuator and sensor design. In February 2008, he began teaching classes in electronics to support Fishbon community interest in cybernated art.
In January and February, 2008 Macy participated in two novel experiments associated with the 2007-2008 presidential campaigns. He performed physiological measures on focus groups in Manchester, NH and San Francisco, CA. The focus groups were comprised of eight people, statistically weighted to be representative of surrounding areas. Simultaneous collective and normalized averaged measures of corrugator electromyogram and electrodermal response were recorded as the group experienced debating activity between the various democratic and republican candidates. The intent of such work was to help clarify the relationship between conscious and subconscious reports of emotional dimension as related to phenomena encountered in an election year. ABC and CNN news televised these voter studies in the national media.
In March 2008, Macy was invited to participate on the Drexel University Biomedical Engineering Translational Research Advisory Board. He worked with biomedical researchers and academics to select promising new technological developments from Drexel’s research efforts to receive translational funding. Translational funding is an intermediate funding step that is instrumental for moving an R&D concept to a viable product suitable for manufacture and sale.
Also in March 2008, Macy was invited to contribute, as a guest biomedical engineer, to a Discovery channel series called “Prototype This!”. For this episode, physiological variables were simultaneously measured from subjects as they were remotely driving vehicles in a demolition derby. The point of the development was to isolate physiological variables associated with anger and then use this data to modulate the ability of the subjects to control the cars. The result being that as the subjects became angry, their ability to control the car in an aggressive manner was limited.
In April 2008, Macy participated at the Coachella Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California and was the lighting lead on a large-scale bamboo sculpture, “Bamboo Waves”, designed and built by Bamboo DNA. The centerpiece of the lighting installation consisted of 10,000 electronically sequenced blue lights, indicative of the spirit of “Wan” – ten thousand stars – symbolic of the unlimited and the universe. He went to New Jersey in August 2008, to the banks of the Hudson River overlooking Manhattan, to act as lighting and pyrotechnic lead on another of Bamboo DNA’s large-scale bamboo sculptural installations, this one for the All Points West Music and Arts Festival “Bamboo Tower”. In April 2009, he participated at the Coachella Music and Arts Festival as part of the Bamboo DNA team. He focused on the design and installation of large-scale pyrotechnic (propane-driven) flame effects for the 90 foot tall bamboo tower installation “Starscraper”.
In May 2009, Macy organized and co-taught a Fishbon workshop on the design and development of Flame Sculptures. The class culminated in a student exhibition of projects held at the International Dairy Cooperative in Santa Barbara in October 2009.
Throughout 2009, Macy produced a website (Flame Sculptures) for the purposes of providing a presentation venue for the flame sculpture development undertaken by Fishbon artists. He also began work on a cybernated art sculpture series, designed to mimic simple animal behavior, based on bronze castings, solenoids, drivers, ultrasonic sensors and embedded development systems. The first work, “Vivisection”, resulting from this effort was introduced and demonstrated at Fishbon’s Event Lab salon in October 2010. Vivisection is a software-loaded, electro-mechanical, chaotic, feedback-driven sculpture that consists of mechanical, visual and auditory activating elements that are subject to perceived environmental stimulus. The behavior of Vivisection is not repeatable, even though it generally responds in familiar ways.
In 2009, Macy designed and developed a scalable, portable, photovoltaic solar system for use in festival architecture and other circumstances involving temporary urbanism. The system can function as a temporary sun and rain shelter while supplying PV power to an accompanying battery-backed rolling power storage unit.
Starting in late 2009, Macy started work on the Santa Barbara Center for Art, Science and Technology (SBCAST). This land-use development project is located in downtown Santa Barbara and will consist of a series of live/work studios and communal workspace for artists, scientists and technologists involved in new media, electronic arts and industrial arts. SBCAST is designed to be constructed from modular-built units and will incorporate a combination of newly available technologies to support sustainable operation, such as photovoltaic system, green roof and water reclamation.
In spring 2010, Macy worked with a collaborative team to introduce the Heartbeat Amplifier (HBA) art project at the Lightning in a Bottle festival held in Orange County, CA. The HBA is a “human sensitive chair” which is capable of measuring the electrocardiogram (ECG) of any sitting participant. The HBA returns the measured ECG, to the participant’s nervous system, via haptic, visual and auditory feedback. The returned processed data is easily perceived and constitutes a proportional response (in each sensory domain) to the driving ECG signal. The HBA is capable of measuring, discerning and representing ECG nuances, such as the influence of breathing patterns on the amplitude and rate of the ECG. Later in 2010 he worked with team members to bring the HBA Project to Wanderlust, a Yoga/Arts/Music festival held in Squaw Valley, CA and then to the Burning Man festival in Nevada. In October of 2010, he worked with the @LAB, Halifax, NS, Canada to incorporate HBA technology into a warming hut designed for participant use in the pending Canadian Winter Games. In the spring of 2011, the HBA returned to the Lightning in a Bottle festival.
Throughout 2010, Macy was invited to present talks at Hyperbody – TU Delft and STEIM (Amsterdam, Netherlands), Art and Technology – University of Aalborg (Denmark), Media Arts and Technology – UCSB (California, USA) and Biomedical Engineering, Dalhousie (Halifax, NS, Canada). Presentations were focused on Bioinformatics and the Human-Computer Interface, with conceptual introduction to emotional dimension and motivational state mediated user interfaces.
In 2011, Macy finalized development work on the “BioNomadix” series of wireless biophysical transmitters manufactured by BIOPAC Systems. This series of small transmitter units are designed to collect a wide range of data types from the human body, including ECG, EEG, EGG, EMG, EOG, Blood Volume Pulse, Electrodermal Activity, Respiratory Effort, Skin Temperature, Tri-axial Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Non-invasive Cardiac Output, Heel/Toe Strike, Dynamometry and Goniometry.
In December 2011, the Heartbeat Amplifier Project was invited to the MAPS conference in Oakland, CA. Later that winter, in February 2012, the HBA Project participated at the Exploratorium in San Francisco, CA., for one of the Exploratorium’s “After Dark – First Thursday” salons. In March 2012, the HBA Project was featured at the California Academy of the Sciences in San Francisco. In May 2012, the HBA Project was invited to display at Santa Barbara’s Earth Day Festival.
Later in May 2012, Macy joined Philip Beesley in Rotterdam for the Dutch Electronics Arts Festival (DEAF) for the purposes of supporting the installation of a new generation of Beesley’s Hylozoic series. This is a metabolically-inspired, electro-chemical-mechanical, system that attempts to integrate human thought patterns (manifesting as EEG) with interactive computing and synthetic biology. Macy delivered a presentation, “To Radiate Essential Nature”, a short introduction to concepts, history and methods associated with human nervous system extension.
In August 2012, Macy introduced two art installations as part of a pop-up gallery show “Standard Deviation” in downtown Santa Barbara. Presented were “Reincarnation Lounge Chairs” and “Vivisection”. Reincarnation Lounge Chairs explores the idea of human nervous system transference and interchange. Participants sit facing each other and they experience the feeling of their own heartbeat being swapped with that of the other person. Vivisection is a mutating sculpture that manifests emergent behavior as a consequence of sensed changes in the immediate environment. Vivisection’s behavior is characterized by swiveling ultrasonic range detectors, oscillating tentacles, bright white lights and sonic chaotic resonances.
Throughout 2013, Macy coordinated the development of an Infant Metabolic Chamber. The system was designed to non-invasively measure the metabolic rate of infants. Sensors measured temperature, humidity and concentrations of carbon dioxide, oxygen at chamber inlet and outlet to determine metabolic rate.
In February 2013, Macy delivered a presentation “Beauty and the Origins of Electrophysiology, Telecommunications and the Global Theater”, for the Media Arts and Technology seminar series, held at UCSB. In May 2013, he was invited to attend the Maker Faire Bay Area, to exhibit Reincarnation Lounge Chairs and to give a presentation for the “Meet the Makers” stage. In October 2013, he exhibited Reincarnation Lounge Chairs, at a one day festival held by Lucidity at the Santa Barbara Arlington Theater. At the FutureMed / Exponential Medicine conference, in November 2013, he provided a presentation and demonstrated a wireless neurologically-controlled actuator, developed using the BioNomadix system.
In April 2014, Macy helped assemble and coordinate a speaker series for the “University” component of the annual Lucidity Festival, held at Live Oak campground near Santa Barbara. In April 2014, his project “This is Digitalker” was installed at TVSB, Santa Barbara’s public broadcasting station facilities, in service of the art exhibition “Communication Breakdown: It’s Always the Same?”.
Effective at the beginning of May 2014, Macy became a member of the Sensorium External Advisory Board, based at the Faculty of Fine Arts at York University, Toronto, Canada. In May 2014, he was an invited speaker to the Mind into Matter symposium, held at the Architecture Department, Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, Canada. Also in May 2014, he was invited to attend the Maker Faire Bay Area, to exhibit the Sensory Perception Chairs art project. Later in May 2014, he gave a presentation for the “Tech Talks” series at Google Inc., Mountain View, CA.
In July 2014, Macy was invited to bring the Sensory Perception Chair project to Twenty Wonder – A Carnival for the Mind, a non-profit organization event focused on raising funds for DSALA. Later in July 2014, the Sensory Perception Chair project was part of the Santa Barbara Arts Fund exhibit, Ruckus. In August 2014, he exhibited the Sensory Perception Chairs project at the Center Camp Café at Burning Man, BRC, Nevada.
In October, 2014, Macy exhibited the Reincarnation Lounge Chairs project at the IndieCade Gaming Exhibition in Culver City, CA and the Science and Non-Duality (SAND) Conference in San Jose, CA. In November, 2014, he was an invited speaker at the Biofeedback Society of California (BSC) 40th Annual Conference in Oakland, CA.
In February 2015, Macy was invited to exhibit “Plume Cathedra” at Santa Barbara Lotusland’s art show “Flock – Birds on the Brink”. In March 2015, he presented “Bioinformatics and the Human-Computer Interface” at InTouch Health, a medical robotics company.
In May 2015, Macy was commissioned to bring the Sensory Perception Chairs project to the Further Future festival in Las Vegas, NV. In August 2015, Macy exhibited the Excalibur Balance project at the Center Camp Café at Burning Man, BRC, Nevada. In October 2015, Macy was invited to exhibit a portable version of the Reincarnation Lounge Chairs project at the Crystal Globe First International and Cultural Expo in Shanghai, Lingang New City, China. Later, in October 2015, Macy was an invited speaker at TEDx Hong Kong.
In late October 2015, Macy was invited to exhibit the Reincarnation Lounge Chairs project at the Science and Non-Duality Conference in San Jose, CA. In November 2015, Macy presented the keynote address at the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Summit at Virginia Polytechnic University, Blacksburg, VA.