Babbage Cabbage: World's First Vegetable Media Connected to Internet to Promote Empathy for Environment and Nature
Singapore - Apr 11, 2009
Cabbage isn't just for eating anymore; it may tell you about the environment, from the amount of air pollution to the rate of deforestation in the world.
Researchers from the Mixed Reality Lab (MXR) of National University of Singapore have developed a revolutionary invention that will bring you into a completely new relationship with red cabbage and the environment. Yes, red cabbage as in the vegetable! They have built a system, which captures information on the environmental pollution and then couples that information into the color changing properties of a red cabbage. Just as we humans feel happier upon receiving a real flower rather than an artificial flower, these researchers take this closely knit bond between humans and the nature into inventing new media that is 'living' to present important ecological information. In this case, the living media is the live red cabbage. The environmental health is becoming a great concern to the world today and there are plenty of media that report to us of information on the environment which are necessarily one way. The researchers at MXR argue that the use of a smaller entity of the environment to represent the state of the environment, i.e. a living plant to represent environmental pollution, creates an 'impedance match' between the user and the environmental issues allowing the user to readily empathize with the system. This impedance match adds semantics to the manifestation, since as environmental health flourish and worsen, so would the live red cabbage creating a bi-directional link between the user and the media.
Babbage Cabbage is comprised of a mechatronic control system, which controls the flow of household (and edible) liquids such as lemon juice and lime water to control the pH of the solution that cabbage absorbs. The pH level of the solution causes the color change in the cabbage. The control system is then kept constantly aware of the environmental issues assigned by the human user and therefore, the color of the cabbage changes to reflect the issues in the real world. It is targeted at the serious aspect of raising awareness to important environmental issues and related world matters through a new symbiotic relationship with a naturally beautiful plant-based ambient media.
The overall system works as follows: you log into your computer, open the Babbage Cabbage software application, and then map the information flows from the world to the garden of cabbages in which each pixel changes color according to the changes in the information assigned to it.
Babbage Cabbage, named after Charles Babbage who was a computer scientist who made many advances in the world of technology, 'is the first human-vegetable interaction system ever developed' according to Prof. Cheok. The system developed by Prof. Adrian David Cheok, the Director of Mixed Reality Lab, and his researchers Dr. Owen Noel Newton Fernando, Roshan Lalintha Peiris, Charith Fernando, Nimesha Ranasinghe, Kasun Karunanayake and others has been under development in the laboratory for nearly two years, and has recently been one of the Winners at Laval Revolution 2009, and will be demonstrated at the event in Laval, France. Laval Virtual ReVolution is an annual conference held to honor the world's finest VR project, by Laval Virtual. This is a hall of fame award that decides the best Virtual Reality demonstration and/or application from all over the world. However, this is not the only prestigious award that has been awarded to Babbage Cabbage. In 2008, this research was awarded a top prize in the prestigious international conference 'Mindtrek' as well.
About Mixed Reality Lab, NUS ' Mixed Reality Lab is a research centre in National University of Singapore led by Professor Adrian David Cheok. The research output has included numerous high quality academic journal papers, research awards, keynote speeches, international exhibitions, numerous government demonstrations including to the President and Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore, broadcast television worldwide broadcasts on his research (such as CNN/CNBC/ABC/Discovery/National Geographic etc.), and hundreds of international press media articles. More details can be found at the website at http://www.mixedrealitylab.org.
For more information, contact:
Dr. Adrian David Cheok
Mixed Reality Lab
National University of Singapore
Tel: +65 6516 7514
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