Electric Flora: An Interactive Energy Harvesting Installation
Electric Flora is an interactive, human-powered energy harvesting system that converts a person’s movement into light. The installation explores the interaction of bodies in space, movement, materials, and electrostatic energy.
Electric Flora relies on a person’s interactions with a polyester covered floor, hanging acrylic rods with embedded LEDs, and garments. The electromechanical conversion−from a user’s movements to electricity−is based on the triboelectric effect, where rubbing and contact of different insulators cause them to exchange electric charge.
The user interacting with the rods wears custom-made cardboard sandals that are covered with PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene) sheets. As the user slides his or her feet on the floor or takes repeated steps, charges accumulate on the PTFE and the floor. With this accumulated charge, repeated motion of the feet creates an electric potential difference between the user’s body and the floor. When the user touches the conductive end of the rods with embedded LEDs, this potential difference causes charge to flow through his or her body and to the LEDs, emitting light.