An Interactive Oasis At Burning Man

An oasis in the desert is the quintessential image of salvation for the wearied wayfarer. At Burning Man 2016, Grove — ten biofeedback tree sculptures — provided a similar, interactive respite from the festival. Each tree has over two thousand LEDs, dozens of feet of steel tube, two Teensy boards used by the custom breath sensors to create festival magic.

Grove works like this: at your approach — detected by dual IR sensors — a mechanical flower blooms, meant to prompt investigation. As you lean close, the breath sensors in the daffodil-like flower detect whether you’re inhaling or exhaling, translating the input into a dazzling pulse of LED light that snakes its way down the tree’s trunk and up to the bright, 3W LEDs on the tips of the branches.

Debugging and last minute soldering in the desert fixed a few issues, before setup — no project is without its hiccups. The entire grove was powered by solar-charged, deep-cycle batteries meant to least from sunset to sunrise — or close enough if somebody forgot to hook the batteries up to charge.

[Samuel Clay] is the chronicler of this art installation build. In fact, [Sam] and many of the others on the team worked on the Pulse & Bloom installation at Burning Man 2014 — a bouquet of lotus flower sculptures that would react to your heartbeat. He’s provided the code and schematics on GitHub to guide any other artist-makers out there that are similarly inspired.

13 thoughts on “An Interactive Oasis At Burning Man

  1. This was super cool. I found a broken one, though :( looked like someone had run into the sensors with a bike or a sledgehammer (you never know). Pretty delicate assembly. Really cool hangout place!

    1. The picture of the guy with a beer and a soldering iron fixing it on site not enough for you? He looks to be hacking away at it with full gusto.

      Maybe in the future, consider keeping irreverent negative comments to yourself.

  2. It would be way cooler if it analysed partaken pharmaceuticals from exhaled breakdown products, collected DNA, took a picture and filed it all securely for later blackmail….

  3. What about Burning Man 2017 (Aug 27 through 04 Sep)? Do they have “Gender-Neutral Bathrooms” this year (and I don’t mean just “go” where you want)? And what about “Safe-Spaces” where people can only Speak about what the Controllers of the event want to hear (otherwise you are shouted-down, or worse)? What happens if I wear a cap with “Make America Great Again” on it? Will I be able to get quality ideological-impartial emergency care after I’m beaten to a pulp? Note: This POST is a TEST HaD ;-) Let’s see if you let it stand…

    1. You forgot to mention, “Bluudy Hipsters!!!!” in your comment. That is why it still stands….. Though tempting to click “report comment”

      Note to self:
      Last trolling took things too far…. Just Don’t ;)

  4. Burning Man. Where a late 30’s/early 40’s man can still easily score with early 20 women. All you need is a repaint and some funky welds on the same old box truck you’ve been driving to BM for the last decade, change the light ropes, bring some recreationals, and that’s pretty much it.

    Not that Ive ever gone of course LOL I hate deserts. And can’t keep up with 20 year old college girls anymore :P

    Everything else is expensive pretense. Or for a very few, a torture test where engineers learn a few things about “environment” and now Nature pretty much wants to kill everything electronic you build if you give it a chance.

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