Japan Developing Interactive Plants

IT Management

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Japan has been producing 76% of the world's weird s*** since 1952. It's a fact. The country that brought us interactive digital pets like Tamagotchi and Nintendogs is now going interactive with house plants.

Researchers at Keio University in Japan are developing plants that they say convey emotions through movement. How do they get a plant to show emotion? By turning it into a puppet controlled by tiny actuators, of course.

The plant's leaves are attached with strings to motors beneath the pot that are in turn connected to a microphone and motion sensors. The plant will "sense" you entering the room and give you a friendly greeting by waving its leaves around and wiggling about. Or I guess, if it's not happy to see you, it thrashes around and gives you the plant equivalent of the middle finger.

These "emotions" were created in a lab by having people fiddle around with the actuators to express what they thought different emotions would look like. Wiggling slowly may represent contentment, while wiggling a branch really fast may mean extreme joy, like a puppy's tail.

The researchers wish to create different size motors and chords to handle different size plants and place them in places where people go about there daily lives. That's all well and good until they have to convence the public to pay for emotional trees in their city parks.

What these researched didn't realize is that interactive plants already exist in nature. They have obviously never heard of a venus fly trap, or this plant, Mimosa Pudica, that closes its leaves and droops when touched or exposed to heat.

This plant is obviously feeling the human emotions of fear and shyness. It moved. That must be the case.