Music
MIDI Sprout turns home vegetation into Robert Plant

The Premise. Humans have had a long-time love affair with music. It is part of our culture, our customs and even our identity. We’ve crafted instruments of all shapes and sounds and musical genres to suit every culture and mood. But numerous individuals and groups have proved that you don’t always need an instrument to make music.

The Product. MIDI Sprout shows us that humans are not the only species who can create sophisticated musical compositions. It is a biofeedback-to-MIDI converter that enables plants to play synthesizers in real-time based on their physiological changes from the environment. The MIDI Sprout comes with two probes that send out a small electrical charge from a battery and attach to a leaf. In humans, the same technology provides insights into emotional states and is the basis of simple lie detector readings. While MIDI Sprout will not be able to prove whether plants have a hidden consciousness, it can transform data from living plants into biofeedback art to be experienced by all – just add a computer or synthesizer.

The Pitch. A-sharp? Data Garden, makers of the MIDI Sprout focus their Kickstarter campaign on educating potential backers on the concept of the “DIY biofeedback movement” and its benefits. The campaign video features music generated by plants and the voice of a futuristic woman who talks over images of people experiencing biofeedback art and interacting with plants. Data Garden aims to raise $25,000 in 45 days which will be used to produce prototypes for artists to use in installations and performances and to distribute to the wider public, including backers.

The Perks. Just to give backers some room for options, Data Garden amazingly offers 23 commitment levels, ranging from $1 to $10,000. You’ll have to pledge at least $95 to the project if you want to receive your very own pre-built MIDI Sprout converter ready to hook up to your plant and synthesizer/computer. If Data Garden reaches goal, MIDI Sprouts are expected to ship by November 2014.

The Potential.  While there are products which convert human biofeedback to MIDI, they are for medical use and quite expensive. MIDI Sprout would be the first affordable converter intended to be marketed “to the masses”. For the general public, raising awareness of biofeedback art and its potential impact will be necessary for the product to gain success. Until then it will likely become a fad that only a small niche of artists and perhaps some environmentalists will open their wallets for.

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