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Talk to plants? They may prefer to play music, dance

Monday - 3/17/2014, 4:03am  ET

MIDI Sprout (Data Garden)
MIDI Sprout enables plants to play synthesizer music (Data Garden)

WASHINGTON -- Talking to plants may or may not help them grow better, but a biofeedback machine startup is encouraging plants to play music.

MIDI Sprout is in the midst of a Kickstarter crowdfunding effort to produce the hardware that converts the activities of plants into music.

"What MidiSprout is, it translates biorhythms of the plant into music," says Joe Patitucci, founder and director of Data Garden.

Patitucci says the project seeks to learn about nature by turning its biofeedback into music.

"We're measuring galvanic skin response," says Patitucci. "It's basically the same technology that's used in a lie detector."

Each MIDI sprout unit will come with two probes that send out a small electrical charge from a battery.

"MIDI Sprout comes with two probes that you would place on the plant leaf," says Patitucci. "They look very similar to the EEG probes you might see in a hospital."

While the plant may not appear to be moving, Patitucci says it is emanating energy, which the device picks up and amplifies.

"What we're measuring there is the change in conductivity over a plant leaf, or over the human body," says Patitucci. "These kinds of electrical activities are associated with emotions in humans."

The MIDI Sprout converts the fluctuations into MIDI notes that can be read by synthesizers and computers.

Are plants talking back?

"It's really heard to say," says Patitucci.

He points to studies over the past 50 years over whether plants are conscious or have feelings.

"We've seen instances where there have been correlations between activities of humans that are in touch with psychic energy, like Reiki healers, that can actually affect plants," says Patitucci.

"We've seen evidence there's something going on there," he says.

Patitucci believes people and plants can interact, although he's not certain in what capacity.

"What we know is that monitoring the invisible complexities of plant life yields beautiful and intricate data that can be harnessed for elaborate biofeedback art," Patitucci says on Kickstart.

Not to mention, it's fun to experiment with the notion of musical plants and interaction between plants and humans.

"There is some energy exchanged, and some communication," says Patitucci. "What that exactly means, we're not sure."

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