Our interactions with electronic devices is centered in and around display screens, requiring full attention, inducing cognitive overload and blocking out the space around us. We envisioned bringing such interaction out from the screens back into the physical world, where the plant itself can act like a notification device. Throughout this layer of digital interaction within the plants themselves we can connect our digital responses with the plant’s responses. These soft notifications do not provide cognitive overload. This does the job of letting us know that something has changed and we don’t have to explicitly focus on it.
This leads to the definition of Ambient computing. Ambient computing is a term that encompasses many different concepts. At its core, it is the combination of hardware, software, user experience and machine/human interaction and learning, all of these things becoming the idea of using a computer or internet-enabled device, without necessarily typing or swiping.
It’s invisible to us, works in sync with us, is symbiotic and learns from us. Put simply, ambient computing is the collective devices we use at home and at work, becoming extensions of each other, and offering us an overall seamless experience. We no longer have to sit at a desktop computer to be operating a computer — that is the effect of ambient computing.
Chromism is a natural phenomenon that surrounds us. Plants sense light using a photochromic receptor molecule that operates at the far red / near red infrared wavelength and regulates flowering time (according to the length of the day) and regulates seed germination, number and shape of leaves. The phenomenon results from the external stimuli of the compounds, resulting in changes in the molecular arrangement and absorption spectrum.
Creating our biohacked plants we used the method of convergent design, where we built hybridized electronics that include natural, biological elements as well as artificial ones.
Hybrid practices are emerging that integrate creative materials like paint, clay, and cloth with intangible immaterials like computation, electricity, heat and light. The quantifiable physical factors such as light and heat can be recognized by a complex system, processed and re-transformed into simple quantifiable data, and information.
The material-driven work aims to expand the potential of immaterial elements, heat and light by transforming them into manipulatable, observable and intuitive materials. Several approaches aim to visualize immaterials (e.g., visual programming, data visualization, material simulation), however the focus on visual explanation limits the ability of materials to be used in physical practices. In contrast, our material-centric approach aims to actively transform such immaterials into “an extension of the human body” (Marshall McLuhan. 1964. Understanding media. The Extensions of Man. New York (1964), incorporating more of the body’s perceptual and cognitive abilities in the creative sensemaking.
In chemistry, chromism is a process that induces a change, often reversible, in the colors of compounds. It is known that there are many natural compounds that have chromism, and many artificial compounds with specific chromism have been synthesized to date. Chromism is classified by what kind of stimuli are used. The major kinds of chromism are as follows. ⁕thermochromism is chromism that is induced by heat, that is, a change of temperature. This is the most common chromism of all. ⁕photochromism is induced by light irradiation.
The term photochromism (Greek: phos=light, chroma=color) was first introduced in 1950 by Hirshberg. At that time photochromic materials experienced a sudden increase of scientific interest, along with the development of physical methods and organic synthesis. However, it was not until the 1980s where the development of more fatigue-resistant compounds, have made applications such as ophthalmic lenses possible. Photochromism does not have a rigorous definition, but is usually used to describe compounds that undergo a reversible photochemical reaction where an absorption band in the visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum changes dramatically in strength or wavelength.
Thermochromics are materials or components that are able to reversibly change their color in response to temperature. First in 1909, Prague chemist Hans Meyer observed thermochromic behaviour in certain organic compounds. Towards the end of the 1990s, a number of consumer products were enhanced with thermochromic characteristics and brought to the market. The most well known include the mood rings from the 1970s. Also known in this context are toothbrushes made from colored plastic, or drinking vessels or straws, but thermochromism also has many other practical uses for security solutions.
Besides the usage in art and design, both chromatic pigments are applicable in the security printing industry and for brand protection purposes. (e.g., to protect government controlled documents and banknotes with multilevel security devices for comprehensive safeguarding, to protect electronic devices)