Jessica Banks

Roboticist · Creative Director · Experiential Architect

New York City

Artist Profile

Jessica Banks is a roboticist, engineer, and experiential designer who creates kinetic furniture, lighting, and interactive installations. She holds an Engineer's degree and an M.S. and a PhD (ABD) in robotics from MIT’s Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Lab as well as a B.S. in General Physics from the University of Michigan. A fellowship at Eyebeam Art & Technology brought her back to New York to become an entrepreneur, exploring the intersection of art, technology, and culture.

Jessica’s multi-disciplinary background has established her as a creative and technical resource for multiple ad agencies, from campaign brainstorms to development of global initiatives for international corporations (e.g., GE) to design of robotic projects for Frank Gehry and Michel Gondry. She has spoken at numerous conferences and on panels about design and manufacturing and shown artwork both in the US and abroad (TedX NYC, The Aspen Institute/The Atlantic NY Ideas). Her work and writing has been featured in many media outlets (The New York Times, USA Today, Wired, Seed Magazine, Vogue, WSJ, etc.) as well. She is also currently featured as small business innovator in advertising campaigns for Amex OPEN and Intel. Member of 2015 winning XPrize Visioneering for Human Dignity Prize concept.

It is her technical breadth, combined with marketing acumen and imagination that infuse her designs with functionality and frivolity. Despite her lofty goal to keep people aware, awake, and awed, Jessica still relishes the sense of accomplishment afforded by a flattened tube of toothpaste.

Learn more about this artist:  

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Project: American Express Open Forum Spokesperson

Jessica Banks is a featured expert on the American Express Open Forum, where small businesses connect with others for tips and advice on how to grow their business. She has a short video in the "Move Your Business Forward" series, an article and contributes to advice from her perspective as the CEO of RockPaperRobot.

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Project: Rock Paper Robot

RPR is an engineering boutique specializing in the innovation and fabrication of kinetic furniture, lighting, and interactive installations. The pieces in our collection diverge from traditional decor in that functionality and frivolity are largely prescribed by motion due to integrated technology and mechanisms:  Think Charles Eames’s and Judy Jetson’s lovechild.

Jessica founded the company and is also Head of Product.

Image Gallery Products

1, 2, 3 - Ollie Table: mounts vertically in wall and can slide out to needed length.

4, 5, 6 - Ollie Chair: table or bar chair that folds flat.

7, 8 - Brag Table: Diamond-shaped table balancing on its point.

9, 10 - Float Table: Matrix of magnetized wooden cubes held in equilibrium by tensile steel cables.

11  -  Gleam Chandelier: Robotic chandelier that transforms by spiraling in and out to allow for variable lighting conditions.

12  -   Turn Specs: Wall clock that relies on the imprecise motion of sand and precise motor control tuning to indicate time. 

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Project: GE For Women by Women (w/ Sub Rosa)

 GE's For Women By Women initiative was aimed at increasing knowledge, awareness, and treatment of breast cancer while furthering GE's commitment to women's health. The project consisted of a month-long campaign to re-imagine the mammography experience with the help of a curated roster of collaborators including IDEO, Susan G. Komen, The Mayo Clinic, and a variety of other commercial and institutional partners. The resultant output from this effort established GE’s long-term investment in the field and helped chart a course for innovation and progress for years to come.

Note: Jessica produced and ran the space, including all programming, research, and design  and research as Innovation Director for Sub Rosa, an experiential agency in New York City.

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Project: Eggway

(PhD thesis project). Eggway is a spherically wheeled mobile robot built to study omnidirectional locomotion. 


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Project: Altoids - Curiously Strong

Curiously Strong, an art piece shown both in the US and abroad, transforms 250 individually passive objects into a single living machine. The piece plays on the sequential movement of a typical domino chain and is implemented with actuated Altoids™ boxes. Each box is equipped with an actuator mechanism that opens and closes the box’s lid when it receives a mechanically controlled digital signal. Sequential activation of the connected boxes results in a wave of motion akin to that of a typical domino chain.


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Project: GE Brilliant Brew 


The Barista Bots were commissioned for SXSW as part of GE’s Brilliant Machine campaign illustrating the company’s commitment to connecting technology, people, and machines.  The robots used a simple web cam to take real time data (e.g., photos of faces and graphics) and transform it into a frothy portrait by drawing it on the top of latte foam.