The BioWall is a large-scale hardware development platform for research into biologically-inspired computing.
A human being contains some 60 trillion cells, each controlled by a 2 billion-character genome that contains instructions for each cell. Faults are rare, and in the majority of cases successfully detected and repaired by the immune system. The system is remarkable for both its complexity and its reliability.
The BioWall allows advanced fault-tolerant computing architectures based on biological systems to be implemented in hardware, while allowing a continual interaction between the machine and the operator.
The BioWall architecture is designed to be scalable, with each cell implemented as an array of programmable logic elements, an input element (a touch-sensitive membrane) and an output element (an array of 64 bi-colour LEDs). BioWalls with up to 3500 cells have been built.
The array can also communicate with external logic or computers at the borders of the array. Inspired by the common genome, all the cells are programmed identically.
Applications for the BioWall have included a counter, Conway's Game of Life, Turing Neural Networks, and simulations of an ecosystem of ants.
The BioWall was originally developed at the Logic Systems Laboratory (LSL) of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL).