About my final project
For this weeks's assignement, we were asked to answer a series of questions about our final project. I don't really know where I'm going with my project but I guess that's the point of this week: write some very practical facts and see where my main idea goes, and how far I can define it. Let's do that.
What will it do?
I would like to design and fabricate an object that helps us, humans, to listen to plants in order to better understand them and therefore respect them more.
I've found two majors ways of listening to plants:
- Detect their electrical activity and deduce what their reactions are related to.
- Using the data from their environment and deduce if the plant feels well according to what we know of its needs, in terms of light, watering, air temperature, soil temperature, etc.
I think the first option is more intersting than the other one, in the sense that the information will come from the plant itself and not from what we know about it.
Who's done what beforehand?
- Elowan (MIT Media Lab) is a cybernetic lifeform, a plant in direct dialogue with a machine. Using its own internal electrical signals, the plant is interfaced with a robotic extension that drives it toward light.
- Plantoid, an hybrid with actuators and electrical potential sensing for plant control.
- the Plant SpykerBox, a device that records and visualizes the signals emitted by plants offering users the unique opportunity to peer into the fascinating world of plant signaling and plant behaviors.
- Cultivating Frequencies transforms a garden into an interactive and generative musical installation by analyzing data from the garden and translating them into musical components.
- The PhytoSense façade system is an interactive green facade that uses swept frequency capacitive sensing to play with light depending on touch.
- Plant Wave: Tune into nature and listen to the music of plants.
- SCÍON is a biofeedback sensor built into a quad random voltage generator.
- Pulsum Plantae (Github project) is a project focused on bioelectrical activity readings from different types of plants.
- Botanicus Interacticus allows for rich and expressive interaction with plants.
- Thesis “Sonnengarten – Urban Light Installation with Human-Plant Interaction”
What will you design?
I plan to design custom electornics boards that sense electrical activity coming from electrodes connected to a plant; a flexible "balloon"; an air system that inflates and deflates the "balloon" according to the collected data; a structure that hosts the different elements together.
What materials and components will be used?
The overall structure will be made out of wood and 3D printed bits here and there to hold the structure together. The air system will use an air pump, such as this one, which is avaible at the lab and seems powerful enough. Solenoids and other items needed for the air circuit could be the same as the ones used in the programmable air project.
Where will come from?
I plan to use items that are avaible in the Fab Lab inventory, in order to produce a project that could be easily reproduced by others.
If something isn't avaible from the Fab Lab inventory, I will turn to a local and/or second-hand dealer.
On a related note, only open-source softwares will be used, to promote the sharing of my project and its understanding. I would like others to be inspired by my project as I was by others.
How much will they cost?
I would like to keep the production cost of my project below 50€.
Less seems unrealistic and more would put a barrier between a potentially interested maker and the production of my project.
What parts and systems will be made?
What processes will be used?
Mini-cnc milling for the electronic board, cnc milling for the structure, 3D printing for the structure connectors, molding and casting for the "balloon", embedded programming for the software. And probably something else too.
What questions need to be answered?
- How to capture relevant data from a plant?
- How to clean and re-interpret the collected dataset?
- How to reduce the noise produced by the air pump?
- How to interact with a potential public?
- What could be the way to share this project once done?
How will it be evaluated?
I would say that a "proof of concept" might be enough within the frame of this academy. Getting relevant data from plants doesn't seem like an easy task and I don't want to get lost in this part. I would like to have a system that at least offers the possibility of human/plant interaction when “plugged in” to a relevant dataset.
In order to track the different tasks I would like to accomplish and the total cost of my project, I have implemented two additional tools.
The first is a Kanban board. It helps me keep track of a to-do list organized by status. What needs to be done, what is in progress, what needs to be reviewed, what is done.
The second one is a list of materials I need and their cost. I also keep track of the availability of the items there: Is it available at the lab, should I order it and if so, where.
List of materials