Disney Plants Respond to Human Touch

Dennis Faas's picture

Disney researchers at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Mellon University have successfully given common houseplants electronic sensors that make them responsive to human touch.

Called Botanicus Interacticus, the project leverages an innovative technology that allows humans to interact with everyday inanimate objects in ways never before thought possible.

At the heart of the project is a custom-built 'capacitive sensor module' which transmits a low current through an otherwise ordinary plant. This allows the plant to 'sense' when and where an individual touches it.

Because the human body is naturally grounded to the earth, the device is able to use more than 200 frequencies to determine touch details.

Botanical Instruments on Display

The new sensors can be programmed to release different kinds of information, ranging from letting concerned parents know that their adventurous child is once again attempting to climb the big oak tree in the backyard to literally transforming a living plan into an interactive musical instrument capable of emitting a range of unique melodies.

In fact, it is this musical capability that Disney researchers have used to showcase the potential of the new technology, demonstrating how houseplants can become musical instruments that play different sounds based on where one touches them.

According to Disney, the system can work on both real and artificial plants. (Source: huffingtonpost.com)

No Plans for Disney Park Attractions

Since this is a Disney-funded research project, many believed the company might look to introduce the new technology in the form of an interactive theme park attraction. However, Disney has given no indication this is the plan.

So far, Botanicus Interacticus was displayed only for the benefit of attendees at SIGGRAPH (an annual Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques Conference that makes a particularly apt showcase for Disney to debut this new technology).

The conference has given the researchers an opportunity to gather instant feedback from large numbers of computer experts. (Source: engadget.com)

The SIGGRAPH Exhibition ended August 9. In view of the early successes of the new technology, however, observers assume the unique sensor-loaded plants will 'bloom' again in the near future.

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