Makerspace
-
English
Workshop
Beginner
Give Plants a Voice: Digitally translating Nature's needs

Short thesis

Does your relationship status with your indoor plant read: “it’s complicated”? Sometimes it is just hard to understand what your green friend needs. In our workshop we will show you how to turn the plant’s cries into signals for humans to understand. Join us and learn about microcontrollers and how we can use them to digitize nature!

Description

How often did you forget to water your plants and then stood in front of their dry remains, wondering what went wrong in your relationship? Maybe you were already suspecting something  and had to realize that there might be something important going awry in your relationship: Communication! Well, we all know it is hard to understand the needs of a being that neither barks to warn you, nor does it cry if hungry or thirsty. It takes a bit more time and effort to understand these sentient organisms. And not many of us have time to decrypt all those silent messages the plant is actually sending us: tl;dr. So what is the key to understanding your plant?

When we communicate amongst humans, we look for audible and visual signals. We wonder: "What does the person say?". And sometimes even more important: "How do they say it?". In the same way, we want to read the signals our house plants get from their surroundings and translate them into messages that we can understand. Water is one of the plants' vital needs and with indoor plants, we are responsible for providing the perfect amount of water to the pot to help our plants survive and thrive.

How can we do this? In our workshop we will translate information about water content in the soil into audible and visual signals. You will learn how to program (AT)tiny microcontrollers with sound and your phones without any extra software. That way, we will build small devices that turn “high water availability” into a beautiful melody and “low water availability” into a screaming sequence of sounds. Additionally, we will highlight the need to water the plant by differently coloured lights. In this manner you will always know if your plant is happily singing or if it is dying of thirst and screaming at you with the warning lights on.

 

We're collecting all info around the project in our GitLab repository: https://gitlab.com/alexander.kutschera/singingplants