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Feeling Tree

Spring 2015 IPP | Projects

  • People have a hard time connecting to plants, trees and most nature because they don't have the same level of consciousness and life as humans do. That lack of connection causes people to treat them as if they are unimportant. But, in reality, plants and trees are one of the most important parts of sustaining life on earth and are crucial to the survival of humans. 

    In an effort to help raise awarness for this problem and help people feel another demention of connection with nature, we (Graeme, Weliton, and Matt) created a device that, when someone hugs it, it plays a certain bird call which attracts that bird to the tree. This creates a cooperative connection between a person and nature and it creates a natural and interactive environment that makes it easier for people to have a connection with nature. 

    Using a pressure sensor to detect if someone is hugging the tree or not, a red LED that acts as the heart of the tree, a buzzer (or speaker) that plays bird noises, an arduino board and arduino programming skills, we were able to make a device that gives trees and nature another dimention of life. We also used Rhino, a CAD software, and a laser cutter, to build the physical model.

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    During the past two weeks, Pablo and Sophie joined me (Graeme) on continuing this project. We noticed that there were some problems with our design if we actually wanted to make it a real art instalation in Cambridge. We needed to make the Feeling Tree attachment waterproof so that it would last as an installation. We also had to make it look more huggable. The previous model would get wet and it would potentially ruin the electronics as well as the physical model.

    We used the first week to find, test, and prototype different ways of making the Feeling Tree look and feel huggable. We tested many different types of foam, such as soft foam, pink foam (hard and brittle), and spray foam. The soft foam would technically work but we wanted to test other options because the yellow color of that foam didn't really fit with the asthetic of our prject. The pink foam was simply too hard to uses as a huggable material. We tried making an array of balloons which would theoretically look huggable but it just ended up looking really weird. We also tested the spray foam in many different ways but the main problem is that you couldn't really mold the foam, if it didnt have enough air around it to expand it would return to its condensed liquid state. 

    We also changed the electronics to make it unique from the previous model. We changed the bird call, we added a vibration motor that beat like a heart, and we made the light green instead of red.

    Then, we brainstormed ways to make our device huggable that didnt use foam. We thought of ideas like filling our devide with lemons so it would make lemonade, filling it with water, and other different ideas. We settled on using feathers to fill a waterproof bag of vinyl. This way we our design would complete the conceptual asthetic of birds and nature.

  • (Iteration 1-6 are tests of different materials)

    Iteration 1: 

    Scaled model of a tree made out of cardboard with spray foam in the shape of a human hugging the tree.

    Iteration 2:

    Pink foam stacked and layered over cardboard to create a textured feel when hugging

    Iteration 3: 

    Different sized balloons arrayed and pinned on a cardboard sheet.

    Iteration 4:

    Sprayfoam sprayed into a balloon instead of air

    Iteration 5:

    25" Vynil bag stuffed with cotton fluff

    Iteration 6:

    25" Vynil bag stuffed with feathers and heat sealed on the edges

    Iteration 7 (Buttons):

    Laser cut wood buttons in the shape of leafs and birds 

    Iteration 8:

    45" long Vinyl bag stuffed with feathers and tufted with heatsealed dots where the wood buttons would go. A flap with velcro was made in the back so that we could easily access the electronics

    Iteration 9 (Housing for the electronics):

    A box made with clear acrylic on the top and the rest white acrylic. The back has holes cut out for the batery and switch to be outside of the model

    Iteration 10:

    We made an acrylic piece that attached to the ends of the vynil bag. This piece has holes cut out so that string could fit through it. This would allow for the two ends to tie around a tree, much like a corsett

    Iteration 11 (Final):

    The electronics went inside the housing and we put that in the vynil bag. Then we stuffed it with feathers around the the heatsealed dots. This gave it the plushy look we wanted. 

    Electronics Iteration:

    Buzzer sound changed to make a different bird call noise. Vibration motor added that beats with the LED and acts as a heart. The LED is green instead of red.