"Any houseplant — real or artificial — could control a computer or any digital device with this technology, called Botanicus Interactus. Once a single wire is placed anywhere in the plant's soil, the technology can detect if and where a plant is touched, or even if someone gets near the plant," a press release announced.
Watch the technology in action below:
"Computing is rapidly fusing with our dwelling places and, thanks to touchpads and Microsoft Kinect, interaction with computers is increasingly tactile and gestural," Ivan Poupyrev, senior research scientist at Disney Research, explained. "Still, this interaction is limited to computing devices. We wondered — what if a broad variety of everyday objects around us could interact with us?"
"I thought it should be as far away from a man-made object as possible," Poupyrev said of choosing to use the sensor technology on plants. "They expect that. … I thought a plant would be more surprising. It was, as a matter of fact."
Poupyrev sees plenty of applications for Botanicus Interactus, including planting a garden of flowers that can serve as an alarm system should someone trespass.
"Giving plants a voice, a possibility to respond and engage us, could lead to new forms of entertainment, enhance our lifestyles and create a new computational platform that could be used for both education and entertainment," Poupyrev said. "In a sense, we are creating a new 'species' of plant that we call Botanicus Interactus."