No longer are plants the boring, decorative part of the room. Researchers at Disney (yes, they have researchers) have recently turned a plant into an instrument. Here's what it looks like:
According to Disney:
Botanicus Interacticus also deconstructs the electrical properties of plants and replicates them using electrical components. This allows the design of a broad variety of biologically inspired artificial plants that behave nearly the same as their biological counterparts. The same sensing technology is used with both living and artificial plants.
Wired explains a little more clearly how it works. You put a wire into the plant's soil, and the plant can then detect when it's been touched. They go on:
The system is built upon capacitive touch sensing -- the principle used on touch screens used in smartphones and tablets -- but instead of sensing electrical signals at a single frequency, it monitors capacitive signals across a broad range of frequencies. It's called Swept Frequency Capacitive Sensing (SFCS)
And, of course, like most cool things, the plant can connect with a Kinect. So you could play the plant, quite literally, as a musical instrument. Or use it as a multitouch controller. Perhaps some day we'll stop having mice, and start having lilies.