One of my classes this semester is working on creating speculative habitat systems for plant life on Mars. Our recent project was to create a closed loop system. My team decided to work on a “Vertical Plant Parfait” in which three different biomes can live symbiotically in a glass container. On the top we have a plant/photosynthesizing layer, the middle is fungi/decomposing layer, and the bottom is the algae/water layer. We have sensors to detect health of each layer, and a pump runs through the system to provide nutrient/water to the plant and fungi layer. A longer writeup can be seen here.
Plant hammock — suspends our plant while allow organic matter(dead leaves) to pass onto decomposing layer.
External LED light on our setup. Sensors are run on a Raspberry Pi.
How did we get our shelving through the jar? We made some “hinged” laser cut pieces. This piece was for our fungus layer and has window screen material layered on the top and bottom.
Algae was pumped in at the end.
Team Member George made a cool Slackbot for our plant! You can ask for a picture!
Our oyster mushrooms are starting to come in and it’s excitingggg!!!!
Here’s some documentation of a recent demo.
Here is a lil break down of what’s happening:
The inflation of the building is based on an API that is crawling the web for data related to factors that some economists have speculated as factors that we are in a tech bubble. This includes the stock index of some of the unicorn companies in Silicon valley. Unicorn companies are startups that is valued over $1 billion. The fan is controlled by an Arduino microcontroller via Firmata using Processing. The API was made using Kimono Labs, which was surprisingly easy to use!
The inflatable building is being recorded live via webcam and fed through another program in Processing that is chromakeying out the orange background (a rain poncho I had on hand) on top of an image from the livefeed that Salesforce has of their building built in San Francisco. So yeah basically you can watch the building grow before your eyes!
See this post if you want to see how the building was made!
Still very much a work in progress, but the system works to some degree!
I’m really interested in the staging and and live capture installation. It’s kind of like a puppet show, where you understand the clashes in reality (like when a puppet represents a human character) but you choose to believe in it to follow the narrative.
Here is a gif of the building rising… not advised viewing for the faint of heart.
Speculative app design to help you meet you your next meal.