Welcome to the project that is destined to be my top wearable for the year—Symbiotic Interaction by María Castellanos and Alberto Valverde. This work is a distant cousin to their Environment Dress projects I’ve raved about in the past. Maria and Alberto have moved from looking at how the environment affects people to the interdependence of environment and people. It started with research on the measurable signals plants give off in regards to changes in their environment and then moved to how humans affect that environment. What results is a backpack and dress neatly pocketed with plants that allows the wearer to interact. Breath (CO2) from the wearer is taken into the mask and travels through hoses to specific plants in the backpack, while the plants are also giving off oxygen. A water “dripper” mounted on the back ensures plants receive water. Other plants throughout the outfit also act as sensors, offering changes in the environment through a graphical display on the glove.
Their video reminds me of The Martian with its stark greenhouse scenes and the emphasis on plants. I’ve seen plenty of groups use plant signals for music, but having the signals used for monitoring changes in environment is refreshing. I highly recommend checking out the artists’ previous work on their Arduino monitor Clorofila, in order to understand the foundation of this outfit.
Other nice touches on this project include the modular magnetic plant pods (a signature of the artists’ work), as well as the mini speakers offering “bird-like” chirps to indicate changes in the environment. This is a sci-art project that is going to get people talking. If you are interested in building a wearable that is connected to plants, you should start with our learning guide on Wireless Gardening. You’ll learn how to make an Arduino circuit with a soil moisture and temperature sensor that sends data to the cloud, thanks to a CC3000 board. Have fun combining your interest in gardening and tech!
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