Glider Ink Wiki

a graphic novel about hackerspaces

User Tools

Site Tools


Suzanne Trawosiecka - the Inventor


There’s that one person who always comes to the ‘Space to work on their project, hellbent on finishing it no matter what. Everyone wonders when they’ll finally get tired, but they possess some kind of vision that drives them to yet another sleepless night over signal analysis or PCB schematics.

Suzanne is working on an EMG interface for her missing hand - NOT a prosthesis. She wants to be able to operate computers with what she has, not just to wear some cumbersome glove which would allow her to look normal.

Many people perceive her as a token girl or the Glider’s mascot, which she openly hates. Suz wants to be judged for what she does, not how she looks.


Suzanne is an average-looking girl in her early 20s. Her eyes are intelligent and lively, yet she doesn't emphasize them with any makeup - she doesn't wear any. She keeps her hair quite short, so it wouldn't fall in her eyes while she's doing something. Everything about her is practical: she wears simple black t-shirts and black trousers, no jewelry or watch. She can be seen in a simple black hoodie brought from one of CCCs wrapped around her waist. Most of her apparel comes from one conference or another, and she can be often seen with the Glider symbol or Open Hardware logo on her tshirt.

Most people quicky focus on her right hand, missing a palm and ending clearly with the wrist. There is no obvious scarring - she could have been born like this or lost her hand long time ago. She doesn't wear any prosthetic and makes no attempts to hide the stump in public, using it naturally. Sometimes she can be seen experimenting with velcro bracelets to hold a phone or book she uses with the other hand.

Doing overall anatomy it may be worth noting that people lacking one hand tend to use the arm less frequently, so that it's slightly less muscled than the other. While the bicep may be okay (“elbow-gripping”), forearm muscles are much, much less developed.

For character studies it's best to picture Suzanne with one of her prototype interfaces on. They look like a long sweatband covering half of her forearm [link0] [link1] [link2] with a sewn-on plastic breadboard [link0] [link1] [link2] [link3] filled with small PCBs, microchips and cables, several of which connect to the electrodes on the inner side of the band.

It is very important that she is not perceived as some kind of eye-candy in the comic. She's probably most determined of the characters as a skilled creator of technological solutions and she doesn't like to be treated like a silly girl. This doesn't mean she isn't feminine or can't loosen up, it's just the focused and determined side of Suzanne usually dominates.

Hair alternative 1: Since keeping your hair short may take more maintenance than a simple ponytail, you may try picturing her with one. Especially since Lady Ada (the best known US female maker) wears one herself link1 link2


More info, build schematics, articles and resources are available in the Interface Subpage.

The interface Suzanne is working on with several other makers around the world is an early prototype. It's not indended for outdoor use - or any non-experimental use. It's a glove allowing to gather signals from her forearm and non-existent phantom hand. With some callibration it should work on anyone, including non-amputees - detecting up to 6 discrete switches, meaning 2^6 = 64 possible kinds of signals. Her goal is to create a full bluetooth - enabled keyboard emulator, which would allowe her to type faster than with both hands.


Suzanne is very determined to create an EMG interface for herself and to share it with other people. This dream led her to Engineering studies - and eventually out of them. She spends a lot of time researching the topic - or talking to other engineers about it. When commuting she is usually daydreaming about other approaches or focusing on a new article she just found.

That doesn't mean she doesn't have a more humane side. Feeling deeply hurt by the lack of understanding of her University colleagues, prefering stable careers to actually creating something, she seems a little distant to most people out of the Space. She's first to start an overzelaous evangelization about why we need to work on open and common solutions to problems - but it's hard to actually talk to her, hidden behind her passion.

Suzanne is really afraid about her own self worth. Living from the money her parents send her (still believing she's studying), she feels dependent and insecure. She wonders about Adam's creed not to work to any commercial entity or Papa Maker's practical approach to gaining independence through hard work.

The easiest way to get her steaming angry is to suggest that she's only a girl incapable of understanding technology or ask where her boyfriend is.

She loves challenges - even outside of her project - and presenting something as one is probably the best way to convince her to do something.

She used to love sci-fi books when she was smaller, but now she seems to be dismissive about them - too many people stop at dreaming, and almost none of the books show that all the changes are achievable. Some genres - like cyberpunk, drawing technology as bleak, hopeless and distant from people - seem unintuitive and strange to her, as she considers technology as the most empowering force in her life. Suzanne particularly despises transhumanists religiously believing in Singularity - Rapture of the Nerds, yet knowing nothing about neural networks and science behind their prophecies.


She has some friends - she found a lot of common ground with the Glider dwellers. She shares a lot of idealism with Adam, respects a lot of Papa's works and kind of likes the Punk's careless creativity. She doesn't really understand the Cynic, but she treats him like a part of local folklore.

Outside of the Space there are her parents - to whom she isn't exactly lying, but didn't really mention the gap year she's been taking just before her BSc project. She… likes them, but knows that there will be no understanding from their side.

Felix is one of the few people she actually feels good around, since he seems to understand her energy towards her project and bitterness for the University people. His caffee and bar are one of the places she can be most often found outside of the Space.

Areas of expertise

Building electronics requires several skills - reading schematics, soldering, debugging, some C and a little assembly [TODO: research]. She is able to program an Arduino or Raspi to do similar things as her own designs and she sees a value in them as well.

She creates high-level software for her interface - mainly for testing - in Python, creating quite clunky gui only for herself.


Suzanne as a “determined inventor” may be quite a shallow character and could use a human side. She might be trying to find a good work/life balance, where every attempt to have a “regular” life reminds her of how world isn't designed for people lacking a limb.


Quite an extreme case of discriminating against disabled, nearly all semi- and professional cameras require fingers in the right hand to operate. There are some interesting articles on that:

Story Ideas


Fashion prosthetics

  • Bodyhack | Metal Gear Man Part 1 and Part 2 on Youtube is a beautifully cringe-worthy example of how game designers tried to force their sci-fi ideas on somebody who lost an arm. A good backbone for Suzanne's story.

Good ideas


  • Motoko Kusanagi from Ghost in the Shell TVTropes, especially Stand Alone Complex where she muses about what does it mean to be human and have a body. Kusanagi tend to be presented as quite a shallow badass in a lot of media, but her philosophical wanderings are quite worthwhile.


  • Kimiko Kusanagi from Dresden Codak TVTropes she's not a real person, but the author's wet dream. Great device to show us the world, but no character. Also possible disability fetish. Nope.
  • Agatha Heterodyne from Girl Genius Online TVTropes is certainly a strong female protagonist, but lacks personality as well. Suzanne is much more human-centric.


  • Mechnical Engineer Cara Twitter photo, a real-life person just like Suzanne (she's pretty private, there is no direct contact to her)
  • Wrist-joint Amputation Gallery! Webpage - it's still not certain if Suzanne has been born this way (hey) or lost her hand. Might be useful for artists.
  • Amelia - medical condition causing birth w/o a hand Wikipedia
  • Open Bionics Blog
  • Bionico Hand Article
  • Bionico Hand - Nicolas Huchet TEDx YouTube
  • OpenBCI - Open Sourcing the Brain FreeThink - a project Suzanne loves and wants to create something similar. She may actually use Ganglions / other OpenBCI-related hardware in her interface.
  • EEVBlog Blog - open hardware review, tutorial blog loved by many hackers - Suzanne among them
  • Leah Buechley Homepage, inventor of the LilyPad had similar adventures with her professor not approving her project
  • Jeri Ellsworth Wikipedia, one of the best known female hacker inventors
  • Liz Jackson YouTube - Disability Design advocate
characters/main/suzanne.txt · Last modified: 2019/12/25 08:45 by alxd