Final Project: Brain and Plants

Slides PDF: FPMS

Experiment Artsist  Statement:

This is not a piece to put in a gallery it is a means to an end which will produce information for what type of aspects in reactive interior and architectural design support learning and creates a “safe” optimal learning  environment based on empirical data. It will explore the use of  plants to enhance the environment of a classroom by comparing quantitative and qualitative data. The quantitative data will be collected using an wearable brain computer interface head gear that measurers EEG waves and a written test. Participants will also be filmed which will be analyzed based on body movement and participants will fill out a survey based on their experience. This data will be analyzed and produce a data visualization piece created from black and white paper and ink. This visualizations will then be translated onto cross sections of a tree visually comparing not only the brain waves and learning data but also the tree rings.


Sustanibility was importnat so I used various found scrap wood for the structure, a found wood chair, and a found wood log. For the headwear I used various cotton fabric blends, wire, nuerosky chip, mind flex original circuit board, bread board, one Arduino led, and a SD break out board.

 Materials used for structure: 


Screws 2 inch

Nails 1inch


2 by 4 inch wood

wood glue

Potting soil

various plants

wooden chair


Materials for study: 

Pre survey

Post Survey

2 vedios

2 quizes

nuerosky head wear data

Participant in plant structure.


Participant in main room


Raw data received from SD card from plant structure


Raw data received from SD card from regular room


Headwear design code and problems:

In the begining of the project the wearbility of the headwear was not the main focus. Instead the headwear was simply supposed to be unobtrusive and functional. I was focused on the weight of the head gear and the ability for it to be collecting data and wirelessly sending it to the computer.

To collect the brain wave eeg data I used a hack that can be found here. This hack walks you thorugh how to use a Mindflex headwear which is made for a toy by metal and use it to read raw eeg signals. The key is the nueroscky chip which is within the mindflex headgear. There is a pin which you can connect the arduino to recive the data to your computer. The arduino must have its own power source seperate from the mindflex. I then used the brain library, again already created, to test the serial read of the eeg reader. Once I got that to work I used and then agumented the example code to make an LED light blink based on the signal strength of the attention infromation and then I agumented this code to make different blinks on multiple LEDS for the different signals.

After having played with the Mindflex and understanding the data I then embarked on the task to make it wireless using rx and tx receiver and transmitter. This turned out to be very difficult. I got the transmitter and receiver to communicate in hex code by using the virtual wire library which can be found here. I then augmented the original code to include the brain library and received DEX data (numeric) however the data it was receiving and the order in which it was receiving it or the amount was incorrect  I worked with the code for many days straight and finally concluded that it must be a problem with the buf and bit length between the two libraries. I dove into the header file for each library but was not able to change the correct areas to make it work. I will be continuing to pursue this task but due to the time scope of the project I ended up continuing to pursue wireless by using the SD card breakout board that can be found on Adafruit.

The code that I used for the SD card reader was a combination of the brain library and the example sd card library found in Arduino. I also then augmented code provided by a colleague Sarah Weaver who’s work can be found here.

After user testing and reciving feedback that the headwear was too heavy and distracting I decided to move forward with a different wearble design. The design idea came from a friends unity scarf. This scarf when worn on the head was soft, warm and comforting. I devised a plan to use this design and add pockets to rest on the shoulder of the participent that were movable based on the participants height because there were adheared with velcro. The unity scarf also had a headband in which the eeg reader was worn on the forehead  The eeg was concealed and the headband was made of elastic and velcro so that it could fit correctly.

Problem code

 Headwear materials: 


SD breakout board


bread board


9v battery pack


Cotton fabric





Some of the code samples:

// transmitter.pde
// Simple example of how to use VirtualWire to transmit messages
// Implements a simplex (one-way) transmitter with an TX-C1 module
// See VirtualWire.h for detailed API docs
// Author: Mike McCauley (
// Copyright (C) 2008 Mike McCauley
// $Id: transmitter.pde,v 1.3 2009/03/30 00:07:24 mikem Exp $

// this one does not send anything then //

#include <Brain.h>
#include <VirtualWire.h>
Brain brain(Serial);

void setup()
Serial.begin(9600); // Debugging only

// Initialise the IO and ISR
vw_set_ptt_inverted(true); // Required for DR3100
vw_setup(2000); // Bits per sec

void loop()
const char *msg = “”;

//if (brain.update()) {
// Serial.println(brain.readErrors());
// Serial.println(brain.readCSV());
// }

digitalWrite(13, true); // Flash a light to show transmitting
vw_send((uint8_t *)msg, strlen(msg));
vw_wait_tx(); // Wait until the whole message is gone
digitalWrite(13, false);


SD card code from Sarah Weaver slightly augmented


Tree Ring Artists Statement:

It has long been understood that humans’ interaction with their physical space effects cognitive development, physical development, brain development, and success in life. (Eberhard, 2011; Bingler,1995; David & Wienstein, 1987 ; Taylor, 1995 ; Bradley, 1998) Recent studies show that enriched environments and our interaction with them effects brain development (Baroncelli et all, 2010 ; Davis, 2004 ; Kempermann et all 1997). Therefore the architecture and physical facilities of schools, homes, and workplace need to be designed with neuroscience research in mind to facilitate positive productivity and overall success. Architects have an overwhelming responsibility to use this knowledge to make sure that schools create enriched environments to support neuron growth during optimal development periods and take into account the plasticity of the brain (Eberhard 2009). Many researchers have argued about how to impact brain development, and student achievement within schools. Studies have looked at the effects of light, sound, air quality, pedagogy, furniture, open space, and meeting the basic needs of humans as identified in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. (Hardiman, 2010 ; Letterick, 2010 ; Eberhard, 2008). This piece is the culmination of a study that explored the use of  plants to enhance the environment of a classroom by comparing quantitative and qualitative data and engraving this data on cross sections of trees.


Tree rings reflect the climatic conditions of the given year in which the tree grew. Droughts, heat and rain all effect the color and width of a ring. I have chosen to display the data visualization comparison of EEG brain wave and test score data on these cross sections because of the similarities that the growth of trees have to that of a developing brain. In both cases the environment plays a key role in the development and growth of the entity.



Graph showing the average participant scored above 50% over 3 min in terms of meditation within the plant structure.



Rube Goldberg Machine

I never posted my Rube Goldberg machine.  My machine wasn’t very exciting because I didn’t have much in the way of fun sensors.  I showed it in class.  I used the sensor that came with our start-up kit.  It was a the little silver pressure sensor that you slide your finger across to get different values.  When I got to the end of the sensor the LED turned on.

I would love to do this assignment again now that I have more components and more experience!

CC Lab Final

MS1 and CCLab Final Presentation

Final Game (applet files)

Sampling is fundamental to hip hop music. It began when club DJ’s noticed that the breaks in contemporary pop hits usually got the club live. Eventually, those DJ’s – or anyone with audio equipment – started looping those breaks to extend them, and finally, emcees began rapping over the breaks. Now, hip hop songs are usually comprised of multiple layers of sampled sounds, slowed down, sped-up, and otherwise edited together to form a single composition.

This is what I wanted to explore when I first built the Hip Hop Is Not For You game: the different layers of a song, and how adding and removing each layer affected the mood of the song. The gaming aspects serve mainly as an interface; this is not so much a game as a toy, which allows the user to experience what it’s like when certain instruments and sounds are brought into the song, and what each does to the sound.

Then, I went about creating a controller for it. As I mentioned, hip hop started with DJ’s, who would use turntables to extend the breaks; using two copies of the same song playing on two turntables, they could go back and forth between the records, essentially looping and extending the instrumental break beats that were so popular. Using two turntable-like wheels, users mimic the mechanics of this “beat juggling” while they play the game. Overall, players are engaging in three specific gestures reminiscent of club DJ’s:

  • Controlling two separate turntables, each with different limits to the range of motion; the left turntable has a far more limited range of motion than the right turntable;
  • Intermittently using both hands to operate different functions; in this case, once the user is comfortable enough with the mechanics, they would be able to use one hand to manipulate a turntable, while using the other push buttons;
  • Focusing the user’s attention on both the on-screen visuals, and the controller itself – similar to the way a club DJ must be aware of both her equipment and the crowd.

Final CClab

From this final project, I have worked with pulse sensor and it was first time to make a interaction project.

It was really fun and what I learned from this project, as people are trapped in technology,

I want to provide people an opportunity for themselves to interact with hear rate which they can’t see.

Based on critique, next step is show different way with pulse sensor and add more personalized visualization.


Vimeo link

Arduino Code

Processing Code

Presentation PDF File