If you’re one of those people who looks at their computer mouse and thinks “This needs more foliage”–you’re in luck. Thanks to the good people at Disney Research, you can now control your computer with any common houseplant.
Called Botanicus Interacticus, this literal green technology can turn any plant, live or artificial, into a touch-sensitive device through a sensor embedded in the soil. The sensor detects where and how the plant is being touched and turns this into information computers understand. It’s sensitive enough to pick up nearby movement as well, even if you’re just waving your hand over the leaves.
The system builds on the same technology used in smartphone screens–it’s just much less practical.
“Interaction with computers is increasingly tactile and gestural,” Ivan Poupyrev of Disney Research told Wired. “Still, this interaction is limited to computing devices. We wondered–what if a broad variety of everyday objects around us could interact with us?”
So what to do with your newly interactive fern? For right now: play. The demonstration videos shows how you can make art and music with just a wave of the branch. What’s more, the interactive experience is unique to each plant. Although, you probably shouldn’t try this with a cactus.
Disney is showing off their interactive garden at the Siggraph Emerging Technology expo this month.