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MIDI Sprout enables plants to play synthesizers in real time. Read more

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Funded!

This project was successfully funded on April 20, 2014.

MIDI Sprout enables plants to play synthesizers in real time.

About this project

Our vision is to give people the ability to convert the activities of plants into music. Anybody with a computer or synthesizer can use MIDI Sprout to investigate the secret life of plants.

MIDI Sprout represents a growing community interested in learning about nature by turning its biofeedback into music. This is the beginning of the global DIY biofeedback movement.

We have had a lot of fun exploring the role of biorhythms in art and music. It’s time to share this technology with the public and invite new innovators to the conversation. By donating to this Kickstarter you will make the MIDI Sprout hardware available to people of all ages, locations, and backgrounds. 

How it works

Each MIDI Sprout comes with two probes that measure small electrical currents across the surface of a plant's leaf. When applied to a human this is called the galvanic skin response (GSR). GSR readings provide insight into humans’ inner emotional states and are the basis of simple lie detector circuits.

The MIDI Sprout converts these fluctuations into MIDI notes and controls that can be read by synthesizers and computers. This information can be scaled and played through synthesizers or used to activate pre-programmed sonic environments.

What does this actually tell us about the secret life of plants?

We don’t know. Nobody does. Jury’s still out on this one. Using human medical equipment on plants to investigate the complexity of their being is a fascination started by Christopher Bird and Peter Tomkins’ seminal book, The Secret Life of Plants. Whether or not these micro activities reveal a hidden consciousness in plant life is yet to be determined.

But what we do know is that monitoring the invisible complexities of plant life yields beautiful and intricate data that can be harnessed for elaborate biofeedback art. By spending time with your plants as they play music, music that is an expression of their physiological changes, you’ll find that your plants are as perceptive of their surroundings as you are. Maybe even more.

Connectivity

The MIDI Sprout can connect your plant to a variety of devices. 

We offer a USB-MIDI interface so you can connect it directly to your computer.

We offer an iOS to MIDI package so you can make music with plants through your iPhone and iPad 

We offer a Jam Pack including a Critter & Guitari Pocket Piano MIDI so you can get a nice new little synth to play with your plant. We also offer a Performance Pack including the Critter & Guitari Pocket Piano with a USB to MIDI converter so you can scale your MIDI on a computer before sending it to the Pocket Piano.

You can also connect MIDI Sprout to any synthesizer with a MIDI input, like this Moog Slim Phatty.

Alternate Uses

An important question that comes up a lot is whether or not the MIDI Sprout can be used to sonify humans. The answer is absolutely! Here's a video of Greg Fox hooked up the MIDI Sprout and controlling synthesizers and video projections while he drums:

There's so much you can do, get creative!

A very early version of the MIDI Sprout was used to sonify ice cream! Here's a video from the WHYY Philadelphia news network:

Rewards:

Download a two-hour album of music generated by tropical plants at The Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Download a two-hour album of music generated by tropical plants at The Philadelphia Museum of Art.
 
Your choice of a digital download of any album from the Data Garden catalog.
Your choice of a digital download of any album from the Data Garden catalog.
Your choice of one of two posters: Data Garden Quartet - by Alex Tyson or The Switched-On Garden by The Heads of State.
Your choice of one of two posters: Data Garden Quartet - by Alex Tyson or The Switched-On Garden by The Heads of State.
Your choice of any two Plantable Albums from Data Garden's catalog. Download the music from a code on the back of the album art. Plant the art and watch it grow into flowers.
Your choice of any two Plantable Albums from Data Garden's catalog. Download the music from a code on the back of the album art. Plant the art and watch it grow into flowers.
Look good when attending a concert featuring your favorite plants on stage. Be that person who wears the shirt to the show. It's ok. Plants don't judge.
Look good when attending a concert featuring your favorite plants on stage. Be that person who wears the shirt to the show. It's ok. Plants don't judge.
Your choice of one of four t-shirts + one of 2 posters and one of 12 plantable albums!
Your choice of one of four t-shirts + one of 2 posters and one of 12 plantable albums!
Build your own MIDI Sprout with an ATtiny2313 microcontroller, breadboard, 555 timer, battery box, knob, MIDI port, electrodes with 1/8" plug, 1/8" jack, LEDs, jumper wires, instruction manual, resistors and capacitors. Enclosure + batteries not included.
Build your own MIDI Sprout with an ATtiny2313 microcontroller, breadboard, 555 timer, battery box, knob, MIDI port, electrodes with 1/8" plug, 1/8" jack, LEDs, jumper wires, instruction manual, resistors and capacitors. Enclosure + batteries not included.
Build a kit, make plant music and look good doing it.
Build a kit, make plant music and look good doing it.
Plant biorhythm to MIDI converter, fully built and housed in a molded corn plastic case. Connect it to your plant and your synth and listen to the music of nature!
Plant biorhythm to MIDI converter, fully built and housed in a molded corn plastic case. Connect it to your plant and your synth and listen to the music of nature!
Plant biorhythm to MIDI converter, fully built and housed in a molded corn plastic case. Connect it to your plant and your synth and listen to the music of nature while wearing your Data Garden shirt!
Plant biorhythm to MIDI converter, fully built and housed in a molded corn plastic case. Connect it to your plant and your synth and listen to the music of nature while wearing your Data Garden shirt!
Connect your MIDI Sprout to your computer and listen to the music of nature through your favorite MIDI software!
Connect your MIDI Sprout to your computer and listen to the music of nature through your favorite MIDI software!
Connect your MIDI Sprout to your iPhone or iPad and listen to the music of nature through your favorite iOS synthesizer app. The iOS converter is available for all iPhone/iPad models.
Connect your MIDI Sprout to your iPhone or iPad and listen to the music of nature through your favorite iOS synthesizer app. The iOS converter is available for all iPhone/iPad models.
Connect your MIDI Sprout to your computer and listen to the music of nature through your favorite MIDI software and look good doing it.
Connect your MIDI Sprout to your computer and listen to the music of nature through your favorite MIDI software and look good doing it.
Get the MIDI Sprout kit before anyone else. Your early adoption of this technology will help us to develop our Frequently Asked Questions for future users.
Get the MIDI Sprout kit before anyone else. Your early adoption of this technology will help us to develop our Frequently Asked Questions for future users.
MIDI Sprout 1.0 + Critter & Guitari Pocket Piano MIDI + MIDI Cable. Plug your plant into the MIDI Sprout and into your Pocket Piano MIDI and YOU HAVE COSMIC MUSIC!
MIDI Sprout 1.0 + Critter & Guitari Pocket Piano MIDI + MIDI Cable. Plug your plant into the MIDI Sprout and into your Pocket Piano MIDI and YOU HAVE COSMIC MUSIC!
 
Plug your plant into the MIDI Sprout, into your MIDI interface and into your computer. Scale and put effects on your MIDI before sending it back to your Pocket Piano MIDI and YOU HAVE EXTREMELY HARMONIOUS COSMIC MUSIC!
Plug your plant into the MIDI Sprout, into your MIDI interface and into your computer. Scale and put effects on your MIDI before sending it back to your Pocket Piano MIDI and YOU HAVE EXTREMELY HARMONIOUS COSMIC MUSIC!
Parts and instructions to assemble 10 MIDI Sprout kits. Use this for a class or workshop on biodata sonification.
Parts and instructions to assemble 10 MIDI Sprout kits. Use this for a class or workshop on biodata sonification.
Take your experience of biofeedback to the next level. Feel the bass from the SubPac run through your body as you monitor the sounds of nature in Sennheiser HD 280 Pro headphones.
Take your experience of biofeedback to the next level. Feel the bass from the SubPac run through your body as you monitor the sounds of nature in Sennheiser HD 280 Pro headphones.
Parts for 20 participants to assemble and build their own MIDI Sprout kit. Use these for a class or a series of workshops on plant sonification.
Parts for 20 participants to assemble and build their own MIDI Sprout kit. Use these for a class or a series of workshops on plant sonification.
Data Garden artists will give a lecture and workshop on biodata sonification for up to 10 guests.
Data Garden artists will give a lecture and workshop on biodata sonification for up to 10 guests.
A three-day installation of Data Garden Quartet. Listen to the music of four tropical plants in an immersive quadrophonic audio environment designed by Data Garden artists.
A three-day installation of Data Garden Quartet. Listen to the music of four tropical plants in an immersive quadrophonic audio environment designed by Data Garden artists.
A three-day installation of Data Garden Quartet and a lecture/workshop on biodata sonification.
A three-day installation of Data Garden Quartet and a lecture/workshop on biodata sonification.
Data Garden artists will install a custom durable installation in your space. Travel and accommodation for two for a period of 3 days is required if taking place outside a 50 mile radius of Philadelphia.
Data Garden artists will install a custom durable installation in your space. Travel and accommodation for two for a period of 3 days is required if taking place outside a 50 mile radius of Philadelphia.

MIDI Sprout Tech Specs

The MIDI Sprout is currently displayed as a fully functioning prototype. It produces notes on Channel 1 with 8 note polyphony, accompanied by a Control Number 70. The case that encloses the MIDI Sprout in the video is also a prototype, the final design will be more compact.

Rendering of potential enclosure design.
Rendering of potential enclosure design.

The MIDI Sprout kit consists of the following components:  ATtiny2313 microcontroller, 555 timer, jumper wires, breadboard, battery box, MIDI port, LEDs, knob, electrodes with 1/8" plug, 1/8" jack, instruction manual, resistors and capacitors. Enclosure is not included in the kit version.

Production Timeline

January – Late April:
Research manufacturing partners for enclosure and circuit boards.

Early to Mid-May: Finalize enclosure and circuit board design, establish final BOM.

Late May to Late June: Establish enclosure and circuit board manufacturing partners.

January through Late July:
Finalize firmware – threshold algorithm,

March through August: Partner testing firmware using prototypes

Mid to Late August: Beta short run

Early to Mid September: Final quality check of boards, enclosures and assembly process.

October:
Full run, Assembly, Quality Testing and review of fully assembled MIDI Sprout

November: Fulfillment

Risks and challenges

There are always risks moving from a prototype to a production run, many that are out of our hands. Through meticulous planning and communication with our partners, we look to minimize these risks and ensure timely delivery.

A major challenge in this project is sourcing all the materials locally and sustainably, particularly the casing. Data Garden was founded with an interest in eliminating the needless plastic waste of CDs and records for music distribution. In the same spirit, we look to develop this hardware with biodegradable corn plastic wherever possible, with particular attention to the enclosure. Through connections from our team of industrial designers we we are looking to find an affordable and sustainable supply of corn plastic for this purpose.

We have the people in place to meet the manufacturing demands on our own for up to 300 units. If we sell between 300-499, we will need to expand our team a bit and if we sell over 500, we will be able to outsource manufacturing.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

FAQ

  • What you see in the video is a prototype in a generic box. The final product will have the same functionality with a more sleek and attractive design.

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  • The MIDI Sprout 1.0 ($95) is the product described in the video and ships as a fully built, complete usable product in November.

    The Kit ($60) comes with all the components (minus a case) to assemble your own MIDI Sprout. It uses a solderless breadboard meaning that no special skills like soldering are required. It ships out in November.

    The Developers Kit ($200) will be the components of the build-it-yourself Kit but sent out early, June, to allow developers the opportunity to assemble it and share their feedback in order to start an online community of developers.

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  • Yes, but MIDI Sprout requires a MIDI to USB interface to be connected to a computer. If you don’t have one, we include one at the $140, $165 and $450 pledge levels. We will provide links to free MIDI software and sound palettes designed by our team of artists so that you can plug and play your plant with very little set-up time.

    The MIDI Sprout also connects to your iPhone or iPad with the iOS to MIDI adapter offered at the $150 level.

    If you’d rather connect your MIDI Sprout to a synth but don’t own one, we include a Critter & Guitari Pocket Piano at the $420 and $450 levels.

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  • No. In the documentation coming with the MIDI Sprout, we will provide links to free MIDI software and patches for that software designed by our team of sound artists. This way, you can plug and play your plant the day your MIDI Sprout arrives!

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  • Yes! If you order the $150 reward level with the iOS converter, we will contact you after the Kickstarter is complete to specify which connector you would like.

    Last updated:
  • The Kits ($60 reward) will require more time for us to package, ship and support than the MIDI Sprout 1.0 itself ($95 reward) so we want to ensure we won’t be overwhelmed by demand. We are making a limited number of Kits available for programmers and developers who want to understand the mechanism behind MIDI Sprout technology. After all, we launched this Kickstarter in the hopes of making it possible to produce the final, fully built MIDI Sprout (the $95 reward).

    Last updated:
  • Yes. Part of the Kickstarter funds will go to establishing an online forum for MIDI Sprout users to share their experiences, ask questions, and post music they’ve made and experienced with their MIDI Sprout.

    Last updated:
  • Unfortunately, Kickstarter does not allow the bundling of hardware products. This is a decision they made to prevent companies from using the site as a storefront for already developed, pre-packaged hardware.

    That said, we do offer a WORKSHOP PACK ($500) and an EDUCATOR PACK ($950). These packs include the parts to assemble multiple kits. They are intended for educational use but if you would like to purchase one of these packs with the intent of assembling multiple MIDI Sprout kits for your own use, please GO FOR IT!

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  • No. MIDI Sprout must be connected to a synthesizer or a computer to produce sound.

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  • November unless you get the developers kit which will ship in June.

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  • June

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  • We would love to, but we need to show that there's enough demand. We can not guarantee that MIDI Sprout will be available beyond the pre-orders purchased during this Kickstarter. That's why it's so important that you get one of these units while you can. If we reach $100k, we can start thinking about mass-production and retail distribution. So, pre-order a MIDI Sprout today and help us get this out to more people!

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  • First, we don’t recommend attaching the MIDI Sprout to animals that have not consented to participating in your musical performances. That said, if you have a hairless cat that would like to play a MIDI Sprout, go for it! Since the MIDI Sprout reads Galvanic Skin Response, you won’t get much of a signal if you attach it to fur unless you use a lot of conductive gel and that would get pretty messy.

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Rewards

  • You selected
    Pledge $1 or more

    32 backers

    THANK YOU! - You are seeing and building the future of music and interspecies collaboration.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $5 or more

    77 backers

    DATA GARDEN QUARTET ALBUM - Download a two-hour album of music generated by tropical plants at The Philadelphia Museum of Art

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $10 or more

    18 backers

    ANY DATA GARDEN ALBUM. Your choice of a digital download of any album from the Data Garden catalog.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $20 or more

    4 backers

    DATA GARDEN POSTER
    Your choice of one of two posters
    Data Garden Quartet - by Alex Tyson or
    The Switched-On Garden by The Heads of State

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $25 or more

    6 backers Limited (194 left of 200)

    TWO PLANTABLE ALBUMS - Your choice of any two Plantable Albums from Data Garden's catalog. Download the music from a code on the back of the album art. Plant the art and watch it grow into flowers.

    Estimated delivery:
    Only ships to: United States
  • You selected
    Pledge $35 or more

    16 backers

    DATA GARDEN T-SHIRT - Look good when attending a concert featuring your favorite plants on stage. Be that person who wears the shirt to the show. It's ok. Plants don't judge.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $50 or more

    9 backers

    T-SHIRT + POSTER + ALBUM Your choice of one of four t-shirts + one of two posters + one of 12 plantable albums!

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $60 or more

    75 backers All gone!

    MIDI SPROUT KIT - Build your own MIDI Sprout with an ATtiny2313 microcontroller, breadboard, 555 timer, battery box, knob, MIDI port, electrodes with 1/8" plug, 1/8" jack, LEDs, jumper wires, instruction manual, resistors and capacitors. Enclosure and batteries not included.
    Free shipping in the US. Add $5 for international orders.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $90 or more

    15 backers Limited (10 left of 25)

    MIDI SPROUT KIT + T-SHIRT. Make plant music and look good doing it. Free shipping in the US. Add $5 for international orders.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $95 or more

    103 backers

    MIDI SPROUT 1.0 - Plant biorhythm to MIDI converter, fully built and housed in a molded corn plastic case. Connect it to your plant and your synth and listen to the music of nature! Free shipping in the US. Add $5 for international orders.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $120 or more

    17 backers

    MIDI SPROUT 1.0 + T-SHIRT - Plant biorhythm to MIDI converter, fully built and housed in a molded corn plastic case. Connect it to your plant and your synth and listen to the music of nature while wearing your Data Garden shirt! Free shipping in the US. Add $5 for international orders.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $140 or more

    41 backers

    MIDI SPROUT 1.0 and USB to MIDI Interface - Plant biorhythm to MIDI converter. Connect your MIDI Sprout to your computer and listen to the music of nature through your favorite MIDI software! Free shipping in the US. Add $5 for international orders.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $150 or more

    12 backers

    MIDI SPROUT 1.0 and iOS to MIDI Interface Connect your MIDI Sprout to your iPhone or iPad and listen to the music of nature through your favorite iOS synthesizer app.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $165 or more

    15 backers

    MIDI SPROUT 1.0, USB to MIDI INTERFACE + SHIRT- Plant biorhythm to MIDI converter. Connect your MIDI Sprout to your computer and listen to the music of nature through your favorite MIDI software! Free shipping in the US. Add $5 for international orders.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $200 or more

    4 backers Limited (21 left of 25)

    MIDI SPROUT DEVELOPER KIT - Get the MIDI Sprout kit before anyone else. Your early adoption of this technology will help us to develop our Frequently Asked Questions for future users. Add $5 for international orders. Batteries not included.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $420 or more

    0 backers

    MIDI SPROUT JAM PACK -
    MIDI Sprout 1.0 + Critter & Guitari Pocket Piano MIDI + MIDI Cable. Plug your plant into the MIDI Sprout and into your Pocket Piano MIDI and YOU HAVE COSMIC MUSIC!

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $450 or more

    2 backers

    PERFORMANCE PACK - MIDI Sprout 1.0, Critter & Guitari Pocket Piano MIDI, MIDI to USB interface, USB cable and 2 MIDI cables. Plug your plant into the MIDI Sprout, into your MIDI interface and into your computer. Scale and put effects on your MIDI before sending it back to your Pocket Piano MIDI and YOU HAVE EXTREMELY HARMONIOUS COSMIC MUSIC!

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $500 or more

    1 backer

    WORKSHOP PACK - Parts and instructions to assemble 10 MIDI Sprout kits. Use this for a class or workshop on biodata sonification. (Add $50 for international shipping)

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $600 or more

    1 backer Limited (14 left of 15)

    PERSONIFIED PACK - MIDI Sprout 1.0, SubPac tactile bass technology, Sennheiser HD280 headphones and a MIDI to USB interface. Take your experience of biofeedback to the next level. Feel the bass from the SubPac run through your body as you monitor the sounds of nature.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $950 or more

    0 backers

    EDUCATOR PACK - Parts for 20 participants to assemble and build their own MIDI Sprout kit. Use these for a class or a series of workshops on plant sonification.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $1,500 or more

    0 backers

    DATA GARDEN GUEST WORKSHOP - Data Garden artists will give a lecture and workshop on biodata sonification for up to 10 guests. Participants will leave with an understanding of how to graph real-time data streams from the metabolic processes of plants for use in creating generative electronic music. Travel and accommodation for two is required if taking place outside a 50 mile radius of Philadelphia. Must take place between September of 2014 and December of 2015.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $4,000 or more

    0 backers

    QUARTET INSTALLATION - A three-day installation of Data Garden Quartet. Listen to the music of four tropical plants in an immersive quadrophonic audio environment designed by Data Garden artists. Travel and accommodation for two is required if taking place outside a 50 mile radius of Philadelphia. Must take place between September of 2014 and December of 2015.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $5,000 or more

    0 backers

    QUARTET INSTALLATION + WORKSHOP - A three-day installation of Data Garden Quartet and a lecture/workshop on biodata sonification. Listen to the music of four tropical plants in an immersive quadrophonic audio environment designed by Data Garden artists. Host a lecture/workshop where participants will leave with an understanding of how to graph real-time data streams from the metabolic processes of plants for use in creating generative electronic music.

    Travel and accommodation for two is required if taking place outside a 50 mile radius of Philadelphia. Must take place between September of 2014 and December of 2015.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $10,000

    0 backers

    CUSTOM DURABLE INSTALLATION - Data Garden artists will install a custom durable installation in your space. Travel and accommodation for two for a period of 3 days is required if taking place outside a 50 mile radius of Philadelphia. Must take place between December of 2014 and December of 2015.

    Estimated delivery:

Funding period

- (45 days)