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Disney Researchers Turn Plants Into Multitouch Controllers

By - Source: Geek | B 17 comments

Control your computer with a...cactus?

Designed in Disney's research lab, the Botanicus Interactus system brings out the possibilities in complex multitouch interactive controllers. By incorporating a single electrode placed in the soil of real or artificial house plants, the system is able to detect where and how the plant is being touched, effectively turning a plant unto a multitouch controller.

Botanicus Interactus

The system utilizes Swept Frequency Capacitive Sensing (SFCS), a process similar to what is involved in capacitive touch sensing. The only difference is that SFCS is capable of detecting a wide range of frequencies compared to capacitive's ability to detect a single frequency. This allows the Botanicus Interactus to determine things such as location of the touch, and exact nature of the touch whether it be a stroke tap or squeeze.

In addition, the technology even allows the device to detect when a person's finger is close to the plant, without even touching it. Although the technology might not be appealing for everyday computing purposes, it opens the door to a broad range of possibilities, one of which can be seen at the SIGGRAPH Emerging Technology conference in Los Angeles where an entire garden of interactive plants utilizing the technology is on display.

 

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Top Comments
  • 15 Hide
    jhansonxi , August 13, 2012 1:22 AM
    I can see some uses for it:
    Interactive music at gardens.
    Paranoid gardeners protecting their plants or farmers protecting their crops.
    Detect when the cat uses your plant for a litter box.
    Camouflaged perimeter defences around fortifications.
    Not to mention a whole bunch of practical jokes.
  • 13 Hide
    dameon51 , August 13, 2012 1:18 AM
    Its about time. I've been waiting for someone to do this.
  • 12 Hide
    beayn , August 13, 2012 2:54 AM
    Wait, Disney has a research lab?
Other Comments
    Display all 17 comments.
  • 13 Hide
    dameon51 , August 13, 2012 1:18 AM
    Its about time. I've been waiting for someone to do this.
  • 15 Hide
    jhansonxi , August 13, 2012 1:22 AM
    I can see some uses for it:
    Interactive music at gardens.
    Paranoid gardeners protecting their plants or farmers protecting their crops.
    Detect when the cat uses your plant for a litter box.
    Camouflaged perimeter defences around fortifications.
    Not to mention a whole bunch of practical jokes.
  • 11 Hide
    killabanks , August 13, 2012 2:41 AM
    lol at the cactus
  • 11 Hide
    JOSHSKORN , August 13, 2012 2:43 AM
    What's next? Cue the "But can this plan run Crysis?" questions.
  • 12 Hide
    beayn , August 13, 2012 2:54 AM
    Wait, Disney has a research lab?
  • 2 Hide
    vittau , August 13, 2012 3:11 AM
    Well, I can see an application, but I think I can't post it here...
  • 1 Hide
    sixdegree , August 13, 2012 4:16 AM
    Can't wait to squeeze some Multitouch Melon controller.
  • 5 Hide
    groveborn , August 13, 2012 5:07 AM
    I wonder when this will be changed to work on people (or other animals). I mean, it works on plants, why not animals? Definitely entertaining.
  • 1 Hide
    archange , August 13, 2012 6:51 AM
    And I'm sure the plants love it :p 
    Jokes aside, this is really interesting. Leaving plants alone though, weren't there already experiments that used the human skin as a controller for devices?
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , August 13, 2012 7:07 AM
    I wonder if it works with grass.
  • 2 Hide
    archange , August 13, 2012 8:39 AM
    CAysonI wonder if it works with grass.


    Hmm... Good question. If you could extend the system stadium-wide, it would make a nice way of digitizing a live football match. Just need one more a tracker on the ball and you're in business. :p 
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , August 13, 2012 10:33 AM
    or just put a tracker on all of the players, but why do it the simple way?
  • 0 Hide
    ojas , August 13, 2012 11:40 AM
    Bionic Plants O_O
  • 0 Hide
    Prey , August 13, 2012 4:20 PM
    archangeHmm... Good question. If you could extend the system stadium-wide, it would make a nice way of digitizing a live football match. Just need one more a tracker on the ball and you're in business.


    A lot of the fields aren't real grass, but I see where you're going with this. I kind of look at it being similar as the mocap balls and stuff they put on people. The applications could be amazing.
  • 0 Hide
    masop , August 13, 2012 4:52 PM
    sixdegreeCan't wait to squeeze some Multitouch Melon controller.


    You mean a pair of melons! :-)
  • 0 Hide
    master_chen , August 13, 2012 6:09 PM
    "Dance Dance Revolution: Disney Groove - Cannabis Edition!"
  • 0 Hide
    dalauder , August 14, 2012 1:19 AM
    The first step of the Bionic Plant Uprising...and everyone's worried about the robot takeover?