StemCloud Electro+Bio intelligence

For the Sevilla Biennale I worked with Ecologic Studio to implement a layer of electronic intelligence and monitoring to augment their systems of biological response for StemCloud.

The basic variables in the system were Water + Nutrients + CO2.  The CO2 was to be provided by the visitors by blowing into the tubes.  The goal for the monitoring system was to track the amount of interaction (and thus CO2) units were receiving, save this to a database to compare to the other variables over time, and reflect this through the intensity of the LEDs such that units which had received less CO2 would glow brighter to attract attention.

The sensing of interaction was acheived by embedding piezo sensors into the tubes and calibrating the software to approximate the total inputs.  The output was acheived through high intensity red LEDs fabricated onto custom laser cut clips.  Beyond the mechanics, the design challenge of the piece was implement this network in a way that didn’t distract from the overall aesthetic of the piece. To do this, all of the local wiring was done with clear sheath, tinned speaker wire.  The interaction was implemented via a network of Arduino Diecimilas equipped with custom shields to implement the necessary supporting electronics and connections.

Overall, the entire installation used: 194 bend sensors, 92 Leds on custom clips, 8 Arduinos, and a central PC running the database/display.

The overall system linked the 8 individual boards to allow the system to calibrate itself against all inputs.  The interactive processing was done locally, but all inputs were logged to the database via a Python server written for this.  In this way, the central server would constantly update what the values of high and low interaction were and the associated brightness.  At the same time a flash page displayed the history of interaction over the entire period.

After Assembly and Fabrication all the boards had to be tested along with the overall system logic.

For stability reasons, a cooling system was developed for the boards.

For the installation over 1 kilometer of Alarm cable was run to connect all of the interactive units to the central console in the base which held all of the controllers.

Wiring Diagram for the installation.

A simplified board was also developed so that the team constructing each of the units could test the interaction during production.

Displaying the information.


  1. stemCloud controllers

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