Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Solar Water Fountains and Datafountain

With help from Silvia, I have beens shopping around for solar water fountains for the Technology Garden. We found that most commercial water fountains are pretty ugly and are overpriced. The situation only gets worse if one wants solar power. I decided to try experimenting with building my own as it is possible to get a solar powered pump on ebay for as low as $30. I'm still waiting for my pump and solar panel to arrive, but I have certainly been thinking about water fountains.

Lately, I have been thinking about how much the Technology Garden would benefit from an ambient display. I also thought of how cool it would be to use the ambient sound of water flowing to convey the sensor data that we are now working so hard to capture. Perhaps the sound and visual of greater or lesser amounts of water flowing could provide information about soil moisture. After all, if people are chilling out in the TG, which doubles as a lounge, they probably won't want to stay fixated on the display on our monitor. We've got our hands more than full at the moment just trying to get bare bones system working, but this is an idea that is worth exploring.

Of course after doing a search, it turns out that someone has already done something similar. The Datafountain is connected to money currency rates on the internet. Refreshed every five seconds, the fountain displays the Yen, Euro and Dollar (¥€$). This mobile fountain measures 5x4x3 meters. The Datafountain is supposed to show how the interdependence of currency rates is interconnected, but I imagine that you'd have to watch the fountain a pretty long time in order to get the message. I'm not troubled that someone has already done something similar as the goals of the Technology Garden are focused on how we can create awareness of plants and nature and the technology is just one element of our research. We're interested in the what the technology facilitates more so than the technology itself.

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