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July 11, 2014 AT 1:00 pm

Connecting A Bed Of Poppies To The Internet With Raspberry Pi #piday #raspberrypi @Raspberry_Pi

Poppy time lapse from LetsGoGlobal.tv on Vimeo.

Adrian shared this earthy art project with us, which uses a Raspberry Pi with a camera in a laser-cut box, Jeenodes,and sensors to connect a bed of poppies to the internet.

As part of marking the century since the start of the First World War, Let’s Go Global were commissioned to run an art project taking a contemporary, conceptual view of the centenary.

It’s a wide ranging project, spread across communities (centred on libraries) across Greater Manchester and anchored with an installation at Ordsall Hall in Salford…

We decided to share the poppies progress online via two methods.

The mypoppy.co.uk website would host a live webcam feed of the poppy bed at the hall, to let website visitors see how they were looking.
A range of sensors would monitor the environment where the poppies were growing, and that data would be used to give the poppies a voice on Twitter, through the @tweetingpoppy account. In keeping with the project’s focus on stories and narrative, rather than factual reports of the ambient noise levels or soil moistness, we use that data to choose from some pre-written tweets. The tweets are classified into different environmental conditions and our software analyses the current state of the poppy bed and uses an “interestingness” heuristic to decide which one to send. The team can also add to the library of tweets over time to expand the poppies’ repertoire.

Over the course of the project they’re planting a hundred poppy plants, and wanted to connect what was happening with the poppies to the wider participants across the county. As a result they brought us on board to explore what could be done and then make it happen.

NewImage

Their location outside dictated that the sensors in the bed of poppies themselves needed to be inside an IP-rated enclosure, but we wanted to provide something more aesthetically-pleasing to house the Raspberry Pi and camera.

As these photos show, our bespoke case laser-cut in birch plywood and finished with Danish oil is much nicer than an off-the-shelf plastic box. It also meant that we could etch the project logo and explanation onto the surface at the same time that the wood was cut.

NewImage

The end result is much more sensitive to its surroundings, as you can see here – the grey box is the weatherproof enclosure for the sensors, and the webcam can be seen peeking out of the window in the background.

The project is up and running and will be in place until the autumn. If you’re in the area then call in for a look – it’s only a couple of stops from Media City on the tram.

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