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Cyborg Botany: Augmented plants as sensors, displays, and actuators

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Channel: MIT Media Lab
Categories: Biology   |   Environmental   |   Science   |   Technology  
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Plants can sense the environment, other living entities and regenerate, actuate or grow in response. Our interaction and communication channels with plant organisms in nature are subtle - whether it be looking at their color, orientation, moisture, position of flowers, leaves and such. This subtlety stands in contrast to our interactions with artificial electronic devices that are centered in and around the screens, requiring full attention and induce cognitive load. We envision bringing such interaction out from the screens back into natural world around us.

Beyond external indicators, plants also have electrochemical signals and response mechanisms inside them that make them very similar to our electronic devices. To tap into such capacities already built in nature, we propose a new convergent view of interaction design. Our goal is to merge and power our electronic functionalities with existing biological functions of living plants. Through Cyborg Botany, we re-appropriate some of these natural capabilities of plants for our interactive functions.

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License: CC-BY-4.0 (

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