Sketching with Hardware 3/5: FrettyFlytrap

In March, we celebrated the 5th anniversary of our workshop “Sketching with Hardware”. In 7 days, 12 students learnt to use electronic components, to create new creative user interactions and realized their own physical computing projects. The overarching topic for this course was ”Bionics”. Again, at the final presentation the crowd had the chance to experience five extraordinary experience prototypes. During the following days, all projects will be presented on this blog. Today: Part 3, FrettyFlytrap!

by Michael Konrad and Clara Lüling

What is FrettyFlytrap?

Natural model for FrettyFlytrap is the venus flytrap, a carnivorous plant that is domiciled in a narrowly restricted spread-area in the USA. It catches and digests animal prey – mostly insects. Its trapping structure is formed by the terminal portion of each of the plant’s leaves and is triggered by tiny hairs on their inner surfaces. When an insect or spider crawling along the leaves contacts a hair, the trap closes if a different hair is contacted within twenty seconds of the first strike.
[Source: Wikipedia]

Natural model: Venus Flytrap
(Source: stock.xchng)

In contrast to the real flytrap, FrettyFlytrap isn’t just a plant that has primitive needs like food, but also has some human-like feelings: it seeks for love and fondness, and if it gets no food or if it is provoked, it probably shows its angry side.

How can FrettyFlytrap express its feelings? For the one thing, LEDs on the top of the plant’s head show its mood. Red LEDs signalize a critical state, green LEDs show that the plant is satisfied. A further indication is given by the plant’s mouth: If it is open, the plant is hungry and thus impatient or was recently provoked by being touched at its teeth. If you want to treat FrettyFlytrap well, you can tickle it under the chin, and you will see that FrettyFlytrap rotates its leaf, which is a sure sign that it enjoys your treatment.