The last thing in the world I would’ve ever believed could be turned into a touch sensor would be a plant. However, that is exactly what Disney’s Pittsburgh research center has done in a project called Botanicus Interacticus. I can only imagine a full-size attraction at Disneyland or Disneyworld packed with touch sensitive plants.
This may well be the first step to creating something along the lines of the plants in the science-fiction film Avatar that create a light show when touched. Disney plans to pair the touch-sensitive plants with a visual display to allow input to be projected back to the user in a visual form. Disney created the interactive plants by embedding an electronic sensor into the soil of a normal plant.
The researchers then recorded the interruption of electric signals that occur when people touch the plant. After scrutinizing the readings from the sensor embedded in the dirt, the team was able to recreate the living plants as artificial plants with the exact same conductive properties of the real version. Turning the real plants into artificial plants would be a necessity because real plants would be unable to withstand constantly being poked, prodded, and squeezed by people at an exhibit.
You can check out both of the videos below to see the Botanicus Interacticus plants in action. This is a very cool invention. I wonder if this technology might be viable for security systems where plants would be able to alert a homeowner or business to intruders on their property when the plants are touched.