Babbage Cabbage

babbage-cabbageFancy having your own living personal warning system for your health, environment and relationships? The Mixed Reality Lab (MXR) in the National University of Singapore (NUS) might just have the answer for you.

Dubbed the world’s first living plant media, the award-winning Babbage Cabbage which is named after prominent 18th century computer scientist, Charles Babbage, utilizes the natural color change properties in living cabbages for signaling purposes.

The MXR team led by Assoc. Prof. Adrian David Cheok has invented a system to detect and digitalize information from the outside world which then, changes the surrounding pH of the cabbage accordingly. Similar to the hydrangea plant, the pH change will cause colour variations in cabbages.

“Why a living medium? What’s wrong with the current high-tech and sophisticated gadgets?”

The team believes that human beings react differently to living creatures. By using living mediums such as cabbages, the team would be harnessing sentimental human emotions such as empathy. By evoking such empathetic emotions, awareness can be nurtured. Hence, this project is being further developed for social and ecological purposes.

With this revolutionary breakthrough, the NUS research team hopes to spark more creative innovation in this growing scientific field: Harnessing nature towards a more interactive relationship between Man and Mother Nature.

To watch the you tube video go here

2 Responses to “Babbage Cabbage”

  1. Wait, don’t many living things already give us a lot of feedback about what’s going on in our environment? Am I misunderstanding this?

    A few years ago I started noticing that large swaths of the Colorado pine forests were dying. Entire hillsides were turning brown and orange instead of the usual green. This turned on alarm bells in my head, even though no scientist engineered those trees.

    Perhaps we just don’t know how to pay attention to all the information that is already there. One doesn’t have to be a scientist to suspect that maybe the thick, brown cloud of haze you see above your city might be bad for you, or to notice that the plants in a certain area are looking rather yellowed and limp.

    I’m a bit skeptical about how much empathy plants really conjure up in the general population. For years it seemed that the average American didn’t worry much about harm to plants and animals, unless the animal in danger happened to be really, really cute. Maybe if they bio-engineered your pets to change color at the sign of danger, people would take more notice.

  2. You’re right to say that many don’t know how to pay attention to the already available information. It’s a sad thing to say but there are many people who merely see, but not observe their surroundings.

    In fact, these people are the target audience for this product. Of course, you might say that this product is being produced with money in mind, instead of just creating awareness and all that.

    But, often, we see these type of products, though created with corporate earnings in mind, making a large impact. For example, Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” has been stigmatized by several eco-groups for being biased, twisting facts, and not disclosing important hard facts due to political reasons. But, who can deny that this movie has created a large ripple in the environmental movement worldwide?

    Similarly, this Baggage Cabbage project might serve as a kind of trend for this group of people (often, urban folks who are too busy working to appreciate relationships, emotions and nature).

    This project will serve more than a simple decorative ornament. By having this in your living area, you would constantly observe and take note the colour change of your cabbage. And besides, if black is an indication of a bad relationship or a bad living environment, would you want to have a black dead cabbage that your neighbors can see? I’m sure not. This would induce people to take care of their cabbages by taking care of their environment.

    And, this is only the beginning of this concept. There are probably other scientists out there who are, at this very moment, developing new and more effective methods such as this to reconnect people with Nature.

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