Looking at the bevy of flora around the Mumbai office and on the desks of my colleagues, I have been thinking of getting a desk plant for a while. There is something about a nice green lush plant which makes your desk look pleasant and appealing. For weeks have I searched for a plant befitting my desk but I never could quite select one from the nearby nursery.
As my indecision and the forlorn visage of my desk grew overtime, I decided to build my very own desktop plant over the weekend. ‘AMBIENT’ as I call it, helps my desk look better (atleast to me) and tells me few basic facts about my work environment. It consists of an interactive flower, a leaf and a pot that holds all the circuitry together. Most of it is built from old plastic bottles, pipes, plastic pot, ceiling fan washers and electronic components left over from my masters program.
It has 3 modes of input through sensors which help it gauge light quantity, temperature and proximity to people. It also has 3 modes of output through a vibration motor, a servo motor and LEDs.
Using the light sensor ‘AMBIENT’ can tell if the quantity of light is sufficient for me to work at my desk. When the light quantity is best the flower blooms to its full extent. As the day progresses and the light quantity decreases, the flower contracts a bit. Towards the evening when the light is not optimum to work, the flower completely closes. The flower also reacts, if someone is passing by and happens to cover the plant with its shadow. This makes it a very interactive experience for people passing by and often leads to conversations.
The leaf on the plant uses the temperature sensor to determine if the temperature around my work station is within my comfort zone. If the temperature is appropriate, a green LED inside the leaf glows. If the temperature is too warm, then a red LED glows and a blue LED glows if it is too cold.
The proximity sensor also plays an interesting role. It determines if people are close to my desk and makes the flower contract or expand along with producing a buzzing sound (made by a cell phone vibration motor).
I really couldn’t say if ‘AMBIENT’ makes my desk look any better but definitely makes it a lot more fun than it was before!