Plants versus Humans – Botanicus Interacticus
Disney Research announced a new invention that adds multitouch interactivity to living plants at the recent SIGGRAPH2012 conference. Given that my wife is a horticulturalist and I am an interaction designer, this has the potential to be one of those chocolate and peanut-butter breakthroughs that disrupts a household for years to come.
The basics seem to involve a “implanting” a sensor in the soil near a potted plant. Through some fancy electrical engineering, they are able to determine the approximate location of the touch and the intensity. All done without harming the plant. Well, the sensors don’t harm the plant – I’m not sure how it feels about being grabbed and stroked.
They have also coupled the plant with an augmented reality display that provides a visualization of the touch events. Perhaps that gives the best hint of their intended future usage. Clearly, Disney has anthropomorphized almost every other living creature, no reason to stop now.