Generally we associate life with heartbeat. But with plants, we do not know whether they are alive unless they fall. I aim to create a plant which has an emotional connection with the user through the perception of life displayed as a beating heart.
When we see an animal, we discern that it is living by the movement of its lungs as it is breathing. This innate movement is always intuitive to suggest that something has life. The rate at which this movement occurs is also indicative of the state of the living thing.
Considering the case of a plant which one can grow in a pot. You water the plant hoping that it will grow but you do not know whether it is alive or dead.
Wouldn't it be great if you could see the plant having a heartbeat that tells how healthy it is?
That's why I set out to make a plant with a heart!
I wanted to enchant the plant with glanceability (to know how healthy it is) and loveability (by giving it life through moving parts)
The idea was conceptualized as heartbeat showing the different levels of moisture of the soil in the plant pot as a measure of it's health. The concept conveyed information about the health of the plant by 2 ways
1. Movement of a membrane: The rate at which the membrane moves indicates the health which in turn is the water content in the soil. Too much water will cause the membrane to move fast whereas too low water content in soil will cause the movement to be slow. A gentle movement indicates that the plant is healthy and no movement indicates that the plant is dead
2. LED light: A LED will glow in different colors indicating the health of the plant. Red color for too low water, blue color for too much water and green for sufficient water content in the soil. The LED turns off when the plant is dead.
With the challenge of creating a plant's heartbeat, I brainstormed for the ways and materials for displaying the movement discussed earlier. I finally decided to go ahead with making a foam core box model with a flexible membrane using surgical gloves to make a heart box. I validated the movement of the flexible membrane by using a servo motor.
After having satisfactory results, I went ahead to incorporate a RGB LED, the other element of the system. With a simple code to represent the three modes as discussed above, I built the foam core model and tested it.
From the prototype above, following observations were made
These improvement opportunities were worked on and implemented on the final prototype.
The aesthetics of the prototype was improved for better visibility of the membrane movement and the LED light. Also, a touch button was incorporated which will send the real-time moisture value reading on to an online spreadsheet.
Link of the spreadsheet:
The circuit was made as per the circuit diagram below.