Disney Imagineers Turn Plants Into Interactive Computers

The technology behind Botanicus Interacticus is pretty astounding. Plus it sounds like a spell from Harry Potter.

Plants, like all living things, natural harbor electrical properties. Using this as a jumping off point, researchers at Disney’s lab in Pittsburgh created an non-invasive contraption to tap into these properties and convert them into computer signals.

Dubbed Botanicus Interacticus, the program allows humans to interact with plants in a whole host of new ways, from detecting touch and grasp location to tracking proximity between human and a plant or estimating the amount/frequency of touch contact. According to head researcher Ivan Poupyrev, “I thought it should be as far away from a man-made object as possible. They expect that. … I thought a plant would be more surprising. It was, as a matter of fact.”

Besides the natural novelty of creating music or scheduling your meetings via your desk plant, Botanicus Interacticus could lead to innovations such as planting a garden of flowers that can sound the alarm in the event of a break-in or a musical garden a la Alice In Wonderland.

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