This Flickering Screen Is Powered by Plant-Eating Bacteria

In the future, the lines between technology and nature will continue to blur, as we create innovative approaches to renewable energy. It's actually already happening, and there's no better example than the Eventual, a bio art project by two designers from the University of Pennsylvania.

Currently sitting on the shelf in the living room of the Home of the Future, the Eventual looks like someone stuck an illuminated sign into a terrarium, at first glance. But then you'll have a hard time finding a plug, because the whole set up is actually powered by the plants and dirt inside.

More specifically, it's a special kind of bacteria—Geobacter— that lives in the soil and feeds off the organic matter. This in turn produces electricity that powers electroluminescent ink that's been silkscreened onto a surface. The more the bacteria eat, the brighter the image becomes.

This Flickering Screen Is Powered by Plant-Eating Bacteria

Matt Neff and Orkan Telhan, the designers behind the project, say they were aiming for a sort of "digital noir" aesthetic. It's somewhat eery to look at, especially as it flickers at different speeds while the bacteria gobbles up the plant matter and poops out electricity. The feeling of staring at the whole set up can only be described as other-worldly.

Come see the Eventual for yourself at the Home of the Future!


This Flickering Screen Is Powered by Plant-Eating Bacteria

The Basics

Dates: 05/17/2014–05/21/2014

Location: 268 Mulberry Street, near Houston Street in SoHo. Nearest subway: Broadway-Lafayette.

Hours: 11:00 am to late. The Gizmodo gang will be working on-site all week—with super-fast wifi, on snazzy furniture—and we'll be hosting events every night. Check the schedule for all our programming here and read about all the products in the Home of the future here.

Cost: Free!


For all media inquiries regarding the Gizmodo Home of the Future, please contact Patrick Kowalczyk at patrick@pkpr.com.