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Disney researchers turn a plant into a touch screen

Disney researchers turn a plant into a touch screen

Posting in Design

Using a wire in the soil, you can now turn your house plant into a multi-touch controller, instrument, or mouse.

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.

Via: Wired

Image: Disney

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Rose Eveleth

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Rose Eveleth is a freelance writer, producer and designer based in Brooklyn, New York. Her work has appeared in Scientific American, OnEarth, Discover, New York Times, Story Collider and Radiolab. She holds degrees from the University of California, San Diego and New York University. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure