Professor Iain Alexander Anderson



Iain Anderson is Group Leader for the Biomimetics Laboratory of the Auckland Bioengineering Institute ( and is an Associate Professor in the Department of Engineering Science.

Iain completed his PhD (Engineering Science, University of Auckland) in 1996, and has worked as a whiteware product designer (Fisher and Paykel Ind.), a vibrations consulting engineer (NZ Department of Scientific and Industrial Research) and a research scientist associated with hip and knee implant design and surgery (Industrial Research Ltd., New Zealand).

In 2000, Iain returned to the Department of Engineering Science as a staff member, and was one of the founding members of the Auckland Bioengineering Institute (which was founded in 2001). Iain's interest in artificial muscles led to the formation of the Biomimetics Laboratory in 2004. The lab’s research is currently focused on the control and self-sensing of artificial muscles and artificial muscle energy harvesting.  

Research | Current

Globally, Associate Professor Iain Anderson is considered a leading researcher in the application and control of artificial muscle technologies.

In 2005, Iain and his graduate students founded the Biomimetics Laboratory. The lab’s goal is to research the creation of new technology through biomimicry: the imitation of natural systems to solve problems and develop new technologies. The Biomimetics Lab has a strong focus on dielectric elastomer artificial muscles with particular expertise in optimising the technology for applications such as wearable sensors and power generators. The lab also develops and sells electronic systems for artificial muscle sensing, control and energy harvesting (

In November 2012 Iain and two of his former students set out to commercialise soft stretch sensor technology. StretchSense Ltd makes stretchable capacitive sensors which are perfect for measuring human body motion.

Iain's research and leadership has led to sales of equipment and research contracts totaling over NZ$1m with companies, universities and research organizations, and he was one of the finalists in the 2014 KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards.


Project links

Teaching | Current

  • ENGSCI 313 Mathematical Modelling 3ECE: Modelling with differential equations component
  • BIOMENG 221 Mechanics of Engineered and Biological Materials
  • ENGSCI 363 Engineering Science Design II

Postgraduate supervision



  • Daniel Chen Gait retraining for Knee Osteoarthritis 
  • Andreas Tairych Body motion and language for wearable electronics
  • Patrin Illenberger Electronics for artificial muscle energy harvesting
  • Sophie Leung Mechanotransduction and chondrocytes
  • Tony Tse Listening to 'The Silent World'
  • Allan J. Veale Peano muscle actuator
  • Christopher Walker Soft sensing for underwater applications
  • Daniel Xu Control of Soft Machines
  • Yuting Zhu Shear strain sensor for improved robot and human dexterity





  • Phil Blyth (2008) Virtual reality simulation of hip surgery
  • Todd Alan Gisby (2011) Smart artificial muscles
  • Casey Jowers (2014) Brain cell scratcher
  • Jung Joo Kim (2014) The development of the Cell Gym and its application to tissue engineering
  • Ho Cheong (Andrew) Lo (2015) Converters for milliwatt dielectric elastomer generators
  • Jacob T. Munro (2014) Computational modelling of retro-acetabular pathology after total hip arthroplasty
  • Benjamin Marc O'Brien (2010) Simulation, fabrication, and control of biomimetic actuator arrays
  • Katja Oberhofer (2009) Anatomically-based, subject-specific modelling of lower limb motion during gait
  • Vickie Bo-Kyung Shim (2006) Development and validation of patient-specific finite element models of patients with total hip arthroplasty: towards a clinical tool
  • Scott Walbran (2013) Optimization of electrode placement in electromyographic prosthetic control


  • Nixon Lik Hang Chau (2015) Designing a modular artificial muscle ring oscillator
  • Andrew Creegan (2014) 3D printing for dielectric elastomers
  • Tanusha Duffadar (2006) Patient-specific whole leg modelling for computer assisted surgery
  • Albert H.C. Ho (2006) Protocol for creating an atlas of trabecular micro-architecture with application to the human knee
  • Il-Soo Koh (2010) An experimental protocol to create an atlas of mechanical properties for the bone of the human knee
  • Ho Kwan Lo (2015) Fluid flow energy harvester using soft generators
  • Thomas McKay (2006) Towards a wearable contractile dielectric elastomer actuator
  • Chris P.H. Seo (2014) An Artificial Muscle Neuron
  • Samuel Schlatter (2013) Bi-axial strain sensing of artificial muscles
  • Tony Chun Hin Tse (2011) A soft gear motor
  • Casey T. Jowers (2009) The design of the cell gym


  • Principal Investigator, Auckland Bioengineering Institute
  • Group Leader Biomimetics Lab

Areas of expertise

  • Electronic artificial muscles
  • Biomimetics

Committees/Professional groups/Services

Chief Communications Officer, Stretchsense Ltd.

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Lo, H. C., Gisby, T. A., Calius, E. P., & Anderson, I. A. (2014). Transferring electrical energy between two dielectric elastomer actuators. Sensors and Actuators, A: Physical, 212, 123-126. 10.1016/j.sna.2014.03.020
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Emilio Calius
  • Xu, D., McKay, T. G., Michel, S., & Anderson, I. A. (2014). Enabling large scale capacitive sensing for dielectric elastomers. Paper presented at Conference on Electroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices (EAPAD), San Diego, CA. 10 March - 13 March 2014. ELECTROACTIVE POLYMER ACTUATORS AND DEVICES (EAPAD) 2014. (pp. 8). 10.1117/12.2044356
  • Gisby, T. A., Obrien, B. M., & Anderson, I. A. (2013). Self sensing feedback for dielectric elastomer actuators. Applied Physics Letters, 102 (19).10.1063/1.4805352
  • Anderson, I. A., Gisby, T. A., McKay, T. G., O'Brien BM, & Calius, E. P. (2012). Multi-functional dielectric elastomer artificial muscles for soft and smart machines. Journal of Applied Physics, 112 (4).10.1063/1.4740023
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Emilio Calius
  • O'Brien BM, & Anderson, I. A. (2011). An Artificial Muscle Ring Oscillator. Mechatronics, IEEE/ASME Transactions, 17 (1), 197-200. 10.1109/TMECH.2011.2165553
  • Anderson, I. A., Tse, T. C. H., Inamura, T., O'Brien BM, McKay, T., & Gisby, T. (2011). A soft and dexterous motor. Applied Physics Letters, 98 (12).10.1063/1.3565195
  • O'Brien BM, Calius, E. P., Inamura, T., Xie, S. Q., & Anderson, I. A. (2010). Dielectric elastomer switches for smart artificial muscles. APPLIED PHYSICS A-MATERIALS SCIENCE & PROCESSING, 100 (2), 385-389. 10.1007/s00339-010-5857-z
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Emilio Calius
  • McKay, T., O'Brien B, Calius, E., & Anderson, I. (2010). Self-priming dielectric elastomer generators. Smart Materials and Structures, 19 (5).10.1088/0964-1726/19/5/055025
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Emilio Calius


Contact details

Primary office location

Level 5, Room 517
New Zealand

Web links