Assignment 5: Wearable for a Non-human

Wearables | Spring 2021

Wanda Nyairo, M.S. Integrated Digital Media

I was listening to an episode of the Short Wave podcast on NPR titled Does Talking to Plants Help Them Grow? and I was really fascinated by this idea that one, plants can sense and respond to vibrations and two that a house plant’s relationship to it’s human could potentially help it thrive. Spoiler alert for the podcast: the answer to the question they pose is maybe since the research on this is kind of inconclusive either way. Plants are tuned to sounds and vibrations that are important to them but it’s not clear yet whether the human voice falls into this category. Nor is it clear what range these sounds need to be in for the plant to respond, although this research study suggests that the range is between 115–250hz. Even though talking to plants might not improve their growth there is something to be said about how this interaction can create an emotional bond between the plant and the human. And this emotional bond could mean that someone will be more attentive to their plant’s needs, thus they will consistently provide the plant with all the nutrients and elements the plant needs to grow.

I appreciate this idea of building an emotional relationship with a plant through sound in order to help them grow. So I designed something that would allow one of my plants to listen to my voice or to music whenever it’s moisture level drops to a certain level. Below is a photo of my plant and the sketch I made to illustrate this wearable.

Her name is Nuri.
Nuri’s surround sound wearable.

The circuit will work as follows:

Sense moisture level of the soil (maybe every couple of hours) → moisture level is below a certain number → trigger the Arduino Uno and the audio shield that’s connected to play a recording at random (these will be pre-recorded voice messages from me or songs) → the speakers at the top will then play whatever sound is selected → the next soil moisture reading will be taken after a few hours.

I think this would be a really cool thing to have for my plant if I’m ever on vacation so that it doesn’t get lonely while I gone. If I was to actually build this and develop it further I would think about maybe adding sprinklers and LEDs to some of those rods instead of just speakers so that the plant could get all these needs at once. And I would make it spin so that everything is evenly distributed around the plant.