WEEK 7 - HELLO 2009

Hello again. We are closing in on the final part of the experiment. Not a minute too soon it seems, since both plants once again have outgrown the experiment rig. 

As some of you may have noticed, we could not help ourselves from spreading the holiday spirit and add some Christmas decorations during the holidays. Today, however, the little Christmas elves and the Christmas tree ball was removed and once again we are focused on measuring, testing, reporting and participating, right? Here are the last 10 messages sent:

1. love
2. i love you!
3. dd
4. dd
5. what's up?
6. what
7. miaow
8. hi
9. gambare!
10. hi

The usual mix it seems. Our measuring guy is back next week and then we will have the final report on how the plant growth and development really turned out. Until then...

... Happy New Year! // No one grows ketchup like Heinz



Original experiment time was set to six week - and now we are here. 

It’s been decided since start that weekly evaluations should control any decisions to prolong the experiment. With the massive participation (16.300 messages in this writing moment) that has been generated without any advertising - it’s clear that The Interactive Ketchup Growing Experiment has been a much appriciated project and attracted far more attention than expected.

We are currently working on initial evaluations for the test of hypothesis, further investigation and the complete review - but until we reach the point where plants are unable to grow due to room size and we run out of experiment fundings - we have collectively decided to prolong the experiment this year out. 

Hopefully this will result in even higher participation numbers and more messages to the plant. 

Once again, thank you everyone who has participated in the experiment. Keep up the good work!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS! // No one grows ketchup like Heinz.


random messages part deux

Hello everyone! Here’s some recent things said to the plant.

karen loves you
slayer rocks
jag och linda ska titta på hey
hej mamma!
tell melinda that i’m running late
dance plant, dance!
liebe kleine pflanze ich hoffe du wachst bald in eine grosse pflanze
monica monica monica monica monica monica monica

Keep em' coming! Thank you for participating. More news within short! 


And what a race it is!

The experiment goes on, and once again the reference plant is in the lead!

The latest measurement shows that the plants has grown seven and ten centimeters since the last one was made. But it's the reference plant that has grown ten! We're feeling flabbergasted, but maybe it's because of the test plant being fed messages like "gogogo you reversed pothead", "bye nerrrrd" and "hey shut up you'll never grow"? We don't know!

But anyway, please keep sending more positive messages!


Rebuilding the rig... again!

Yep. We have outgrown ourselves again. This time, the small pots had to go. 

Bigger, better pots...

...to create the possibility to outgrow ourselves again.

Stay tuned!


Encouraging words

Although the variety of messages sent to our plant is extremely wide, we can still see that positive words make up the majority of them. For a visual representation of which words are the most commonly used so far, just look at the image below!


It's over 10.000!


Today we went over 10.000 written, read and broadcasted messages to our test plant. Good work everyone who has participated so far. We are half-way through the set experiment time and the result is overwhelming. Also, today, as you may have read already - the test plant once again grew past the control plant. Sweet.

And this is message number ten thousand:

"everybody if you can, do the bartman, shake your body, if you can turn it out man"

How about that.

Moving on: Since Sweden, where the plants are situated, is pretty much pitch black this time of the year - we gradually have to increase the amount of artificial light to simulate spring/summer instead of winter. Today, we’re gonna increase the "sun" with one more hour a day.

Which hopefully will make some of our American participants happy, since they’re usually at work when the plants go to sleep over here.

Stay sunny // No one grows ketchup like Heinz.

Back in the lead!

Our test plant has been falling behind the reference plant for quite some time, but todays measurement shows that it's once again back in the lead!

We think this is fairly amazing! The last measurement was taken just this Friday, and the test plant has grown seven centimeters since then (while the reference plant has grown just three)!

Please keep sending more love and encouragement to it!


LOVE is all we need!

This is rumor control:

Todays measurement shows that our control plant is getting ahead. Are we not giving enough love here? Is the theory of human breath something to consider? Interesting development none the less.

Here are some things said to the plant, that we feel could be a part of the problem:

1. gnnnn fock 
2. mary is hairy
3. this is the strangest life i have ever known

We cannot see how these sentences will provide any help of growth! Most people are still writing positive and scientifically smart stuff - and we need more of that.

Come on now. Spread the love. And help the plant!

Stay nice // No one grows ketchup like Heinz



So, now we’ve got a new rig - one that allows our test plant to reach the moon more or less.

The rebuilding took a bit longer than expected - but all for the better.

The time-lapse will look a bit strange for a few days, since we changed the angle of the cameras, but please keep talking to our little plant!

Stay tuned! 

Rebuilding the rig!

For about 1 hour the experiment will be on hold - due to reconstruction of the IRL tomato rig. The plants have grown out of the frame we set to monitor their development. Clearly, we did not expect such massive growth in only two weeks. Exciting!

Please excuse the short break and do return when the new rig is up and running!

Stay sharp // No one grows ketchup like Heinz.


Timelapse progress of week two.

We made a little timelapse trailer-ish kind of clip. It shows the progress from first two weeks (almost -  on monday it is two whole weeks) - please feel free to share.

Up next: Extreme out of frame growth requires rebuilding the rig! Stay tuned!


"No, it's not Glögg" and new measurements.

We water the plants everyday, and no, we don't use Glögg when we do it.

This morning we measured the plants once again, and the reference plant is once again in the lead!

To help the test plant out, please send as much encouraging words to it as possible. If they do any good, you must help us prove it!

We're still working on a solution to the height-issue and we've got a few ideas, but it might involve "re-rigging" the, uhm, rig. So if the live cam feed temporarily goes down, don't panic, it's just us working on improvements!


Added plant support. Despair follows.

We went out and bought hair clips to further support the plants:

Unfortunately, the result is, well, encouraging and troublesome at the same time:

The main issue is that there really is no space to move the cameras further away from the plants. Hopefully we will come up with a solution soon.

Meanwhile, keep supporting the plant by sending loving and encouraging words in its way!


A selection of sent messages.

Here’s a list of 10 selected messages from the first week, we felt stood out a bit:

1. no brian. i will not do that with you.
2. please grow big and strong so i can pour you on my veggie burger
3. 100 million dollars
4. you can do it
5. hahah no i’m from istanbul turkey
6. i won’t let the snails get you
7. i want to feel your body, mister ketchup
8. you will taste great on my fries
9. gabby, i love you
10. when dogs bark. please smile. do not throw stones.

The most common message? It’s not that surprisingly "grow" or "grow plant".

Stay tuned//No one grows ketchup like Heinz.

My oh my!

This morning when we came into our office we, as we usually do, opened up http://www.talktotheplant.com to have a look at how our plants are doing. And behold! They're doing great! Just have a look at this picture, showing a shot of the site from this morning right next to the one Malin took yesterday afternoon.

As a side note we think it seems like the test plant now is both taller and sturdier (We'll measure them later)! Could this be because of the huge increase in messages sent to it? Keep'em coming!


Tall or sturdy?

First week’s evaluation, and measurement is due. So, how are we doing so far?

1. Test plant is thicker and sturdier!
2. Reference plant is taller...

So, what’s more important? To be tall, or to be big? Anyway, 2416 messages sent to test plant in this writing moment. Let’s see what happens next.

Stay tuned. 

And do visit our little plant once a day - and talk to it!

Up up!

These plants are indeed quite able. Measurements today showed that in just the little time they've been living with us they've both reached a length above 35 centimeters. It's a bit hard to measure them accurately using a ruler, since they aren't exactly straight. But we had to get by with what we had for now.

We're a bit concerned with the plants soon growing out of picture and we're currently discussing how to tackle this particular problem. We will of course keep you posted on the matter.

The pictures were sneakishly screen-captured from the live site by Malin while Stefan was checking out the length and putting up Post-its behind the plants.

A small observation might be in place: Notice that the test plant is a bit shorter than the reference one? It indeed is, but it's on the other hand wider and sturdier. We're not entirely sure what is best and how to properly analyze this situation, but we do know that you should keep on sending your love towards the test plant!


Growing pains 2.0 - we’ve got sticks!

Update on previous post:

Both plants are now provided with sufficient and stable support for further growing. 

Early morning growing pains!

This morning, at apprx. 08.45 am, the test plant gave away due to intense growing! Although calculated for, we did not see this extensive development coming so early! Quick action has resulted in:

1. Both plants are given temporary support sticks (wooden chop sticks)
2. Our project runner is on the mission to get sufficient support - a stable solution.

Here are some snapshots of the situation and this very exciting development! Stay tuned!



Tech Talk

So yeah, it's real and it's live. You want to know what's behind the scenes technically?

When it comes to the IT-hardware, here are the specs:

1 1.83Ghz Mac mini
2 Logitech QuickCam Vision Pro webcams
1 JJ-Labs BMC microphone
1 d'feldt Audioengine 2 speaker

Besides from the hardware directly visible in the cams, and the computer running them, there's a bunch of additional stuff needed for the rig:

Loads of acoustic sounddampening-foam, a 200w low-heat Lohuis Nurture Lamp, a lamp timer, some fans to keep the air circulating and the temperature regulated and a green nightlight. All young ones need a nightlight, right? Joking aside, the nightlight operates at waveslengths that don't interfere with the plants sleep-cycles, so that one's mostly for us (and you).

So you type in some text .. what happens then? The text is posted to the webserver (running a PHP application) and saved in a message queue. The mac computer running the experiment polls that queue constantly for any new messages, and relays them to a script which plays them using speech synthesis on the line-out port. Connected to the line-out port on the mac mini is the d'feldt speaker, which plays the speech synthesis for the experiment-plant.

Here's where the experiment ends and the experience begins. We could stop right there and still let the experiment run it's course, but we wanted to keep you guys involved in the experience, you are the ones contributing the loving encouragement after all. so..

..Right in front of the speaker, we have the JJ-Labs microphone. The mic picks up the sound from the speaker along with a bunch of noise from the fans e.t.c. (sorry about that, but we wanted this to be the actual sound and not a faked simulation .. so we have to live with it). The sound is then streamed through an icecast server, right to the flash-site in your web-browser.

The images are streamed separately. A new image of each plant is taken every two seconds, and sent to the webserver. Every hour, the server builds a 15 second timelapse clip from the images captured so far. The resolution of the timelapse will change dynamically through the experiment to cover the entire growth period of the plants. (6 weeks condensed to 15 seconds will naturally not have the same resolution in the time interval between images as 1 week of growth condensed to the same 15 seconds).

The timelapse clip is the one you see when you first enter the site, so don't forget to check back in for your daily 15 second summary of the experiment so far!

Stefan adjusting the camera.

Hello Ann-Margret Nordberg...

... who nursed the plants before we put them in our interactive ketchup growing experiment!

- Hello. I hope they are growing still, I have taken good care of them and talked to them before.

So, you did talk to them?

- Yes, I always talk to my plants and give them oxygen.

What did you say to our tomato plants?

- I told them they are beautiful and that they are growing great. Plants are living things and they need energy. Living energy! I enjoy being in my green house and nurse my plants and I think they appriciate the human interaction.

Great! Thank you for taking good care of them prior to the experiment, we hope it’s ok to publish this conversation in our behind-the-scenes blog?

- Yes of course. Feel free to contact me if you need any more help or advice on how to nurse the plants!

Thank you! We’ll do that!

The baby plants nursed by Ann-Margret.


So, we are live!

Yo. Everything is up and running and seems to be working. Good! The initial respons to the project has been predominantly positive so far, but there are some things that needs to be clarified further it seems. We will do a couple of updates to make sure the majority of participants in the interactive experiment are fully aware of these simple things:

1. Yes, this is a live broadcast experiment. There are real plants in a lab room.
2. The plants are situated in Sweden. Therefore, the time zone is UTC/GMT +1 hour. The plants usually sleep around 6-8 hours. And when they sleep, it’s dark.
3. Everything you write is sent to the plant. Everything the plant hear from you is broadcasted live on the site.

There are some minor updates this week to clarify these things. There will also be some tech reports and development reports on the plants along the way. All availeble right here. Keep watching this space for more info on experiment objectives, hypothesis and materials used. 

And keep watching talktotheplant.com for updated time-lapse sequenzes on the plant growth!

Stay tuned.


Blog opened.

This is the behind the scenes blog for the ongoing interactive ketchup growing experiment Talk to the plant by Heinz (available at talktotheplant.com).

Here you'll find the latest information about the live broadcast, behind the scenes footage of the plants and tech development issues. We will also try to answer any questions about the experiment here, if we’ve got the time and possibilty to do so. Content will be provided by the people in charge of the plants, technical directors and developers, creatives behind the project and official information by Heinz. Welcome.