Bioluminescence is a strange beast. On one hand, glowing blue Avatar-esque lights are insanely beautiful and stir a sense of wonder that's been lost with city-living. Look at Puerto Rico's famous Bio Bay for example, a warm pool seething with dinoflagellates that respond to movement by emitting glowing streams of blue diamond light, as if the water's surface is carpeted with shooting stars. Seriously.
However, bio bays are few, and the world is big. So how can you capture that magic when you’re living in a city? That’s what Yonder Technologies is trying to do with their Dino Pet nightlight.
The Dino Pet is a 3D-printed (because that’s what everyone is doing these days) dinosaur-shaped glowing bauble. Inside are the magical dinoflagellates - marine algae that glow when disturbed - which will shine proudly through the evening on your bedside table.
“We aim to create an interactive toy that teaches kids that magic is found in understanding the world around you. To understand and to work with nature is paramount to living more sustainably,” said Andy Bass, co-founder of Yonder Biology. “Our hope is the Dino Pet will inspire young minds to take an interest in biology and shape the way we live in the future.”
Because dinoflagellates are ‘real’ - as in, living organisms - they need to be fed, and there’s nothing they like more than undiluted sunlight. Actually, they don’t have a super varied diet: That’s almost the only thing they eat. They can get an extended lifeline with the provided dino food, a mix of saltwater and nutrients.
So, what’s the point? This is twofold. First, the glowing dinosaur is adorable, and that’s pretty important. Second, it teaches us - and by that, we mean both children and adults - about marine biology and makes us aware of the fantastic ecosystem we live in. Sure, we can make rabbits glow nowadays, but bioluminescence is pure nature and doesn’t need to be hacked.
The act of caring for your Dino Pet introduces you to a world of sea organisms, and you get to go on a mini "God" power trip. Well, a let-there-be-light trip anyway.
This is because the Dino Pet won’t physically grow, but the brightness quotient will change depending on your level of care. Give them lots of sun and nutrients and they’ll shine; forget about them and those poor little algae lights will droop and die.
We love the way this blends science and style together, and -esque products rule!
The Dino Pets are available through a Kickstarter campaign that runs until September 15th, 2013. The current cost of one DinoPet (launch date April 2014) is $40.