PlantWave, a Device for Translating Biodata from Plants into Sounds

These days you have probably already come across a video of a mushroom or a any kind of plant making some music with a modular or a MIDI device. Although there are several ways of doing this, there’s one device responsible of the popularity and propagation of this kind of explorations, called PlantWave.

It started inside Data Garden, a small company founded by Joe Patitucci and Alex Tyson in 2011, dedicated to explore a connection between plants and music. They launched a successfully backed Kickstarter campaign some years later, in which they launched their first child, MIDISprout, conceived as a MIDI device aimed to translate plant biodata into MIDI signals to control any kind of capable device. The schematics of the device were also offered as open source, opening the path to DIY MIDISprouts that you can access in various ways.

However, over the years, the device has been expanded and refined, based in Cusumano’s system able to translate conductive microfluctuations of a leaf into MIDI, but evolving it into a beautiful and capable device nowadays called PlatWave, with better connectivity and performance. It has Bluetooth, WIFI, USB C, 1/8″ MIDI and houses a rechargeable LI Battery. Plus it’s made from renewable/recycled materials under sustainable manufacturing practices.

PlantWave device comes with electrode leads, 3 pairs of reusable sticky pads for leaves, additional clips and USB C cable. You just need to connect it to the surface of a leaf and it will detect subtle electrical variations in the plant, which get graphed as waves and then translated into MIDI signals, which can be pitch and/or control messages that activate a mobile device running the dedicated app or practically any kind of MIDI synthesizer and software.

You can get a PlantWave for $299.

If you are handy and like open source alternatives, there are instructions to create a DIY MIDISprout or similar biodata sonification devices at Electricity for Progress. Go to their GitHub for more info on kits, instructions and schematics.

Miguel Isaza M

Listener, speaker.