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Brief Published: 19 Mar 2014

Midi Sprout: Musical Plants

Midi Sprout

The Midi Sprout is a biofeedback device that can turn plants into music makers. Designed by Philadelphia-based arts collective Data Garden, the $60 system uses changes in the biological processes of the plant to trigger sounds through a synthesiser.

Two probes measure the electrical current running through a leaf, measuring any fluctuations, which are then converted into Midi (musical instrument digital interface) notes and controls that can be read by a synthesiser or computer. The probes can also be applied to human skin, to measure what’s known as the galvanic skin response (GSR), which forms the basis of many lie-detector tests.

Money for the development of the Midi Sprout is being raised on crowdfunding website Kickstarter. If fully funded, it will be the first commercially available biofeedback device converter of its kind. Alongside personal use, Data Garden says artists and collaborators could use it to create innovative installations and performance art.

Plants are a rich resource for scientists and technologists – and their research is beginning to impact the commercial technology sector. Devices such as the Parrot sensor – which uses sensors to alert users to the needs of their plants – give people a more detailed awareness of their environment. Meanwhile, medical devices such as the Personal Input Pod from Irish tech firm Galvanic provide biofeedback to help users combat stress – in this case, by giving them greater awareness of their personal biorhythms. See Hybrid Health for more.