Since scientists uncovered that plants communicate with each other and their surroundings, the mystic behaviour of plants gained more attention in the mainstream. Over the past years, an increasing awareness has established, which acknowledges plants as living beings rather than decorative objects.
We wanted to use technology as catalyser for plant-human communication and explore unconventional ways of demonstrating the activity, behaviour and communication of plants through sound.
Spore is a concept that gives a voice to plants in order to make their communication more accessible for humans. It helps to build up a deeper and more equal relationship between plants and humans that goes beyond the daily watering routine.
From human-centered to life-centered design.
As the earth is not the center of the universe, "users" should not be the center of design. Our aim was to design for the symbiosis with nature as well as the relationship to large ecosystems, the environment and the planet for a healthy human world view.
Bringing qualia in the user experience of technology.
Todays user interfaces are seamless, neat and intuitive. That is not only dull but also reduces human "experiences" to an equal, collective level. Through authentic sensorial experiences, we want to make interactions more subjective and meaningful.
Enhancing imperfection through wabi-sabi.
Younger generations seek for authenticity as a compensation for the sleek digital life of today. By adding soul to technology, we value the aesthetics of nature with its roughness, modesty, and appreciation of the integrity of natural objects and processes.
Exploring Plant Activity
During the project we observed and engaged with plants to become more aware of slight and small changes in behaviour, activity or appearance. By the help of Arduino sensors we captured data about conductivity and moisture within the stem and instantly transformed it into sounds. Thus we were able to quickly test our idea.
Recording Sounds from Nature
As a basis for natural plant communication, we audio-recorded sounds created by nature.
Transforming the Sounds
The recorded sounds were audio-edited, transformed into patterns and supported by further synthesized sounds. Those patterns served for different plant activites as described below. Each sound would be amplified according to the plants communication.
Various activities of the plant such as oxygen production, stress level and growth are transformed into audible signals. So the plant's communication is made accessible and understandable for humans. The activites were grouped into three soundscapes dealing with distinct behaviours.
Oxygen Rate, Light Amount and Sugar Production
Water State, Temperature, Illness
Root Expansion, Nutriens, Cell Multiplication
How it works
A probe device sends information from the plant to the speaker unit, where each of the three soundscapes can be amplified seperately or blend to one overall language together. Therefore, the speaker provides three movable rings as volume scales.
1. Charge up the probe
Both speaker as well as the probe can be inductively charged on the tray by simply placing them on the specified areas.
2. Stick it into the soil
Once the probe is charged, it will automatically activate by sticking it into the soil. The probe starts recording information about the plant activity.
3. Adjust the channels
The intensity of each channel can be adjusted separately. Thus spore allows to investigate specific sound behaviours more distinct.
4. Listen to the plant
Spore is made to integrate plant communication into the daily life at home. Therefore it can be used while reading, cooking, relaxing or doing the housework.
The product contains three units. The charging tray, the plant sensor and the speaker unit. Everything is gathered on the plate when in passive / charging mode. The probe is put into the soil of a selected plant that one wants to listen to. The speaker can be placed on alternative locations in the house.