Botanicus Interacticus is a technology for designing highly expressive interactive plants, both living and artificial. The project is motivated by the rapid fusion of our computing and dwelling spaces, as well as the increasingly tactile and gestural nature of our interactions with digital devices. It is an interaction platform that expands interaction beyond computing devices and appliances to place it anywhere in the physical environment.
Botanicus Interacticus has a number of unique properties that set it apart from previous work on interactive plants:
• This instrumentation of plants is simple, non-invasive, and does not damage the plants. It requires only a single wire placed anywhere in the soil.
• The interaction goes beyond simple touch detection to allow rich gestural interaction with the plant (for example, sliding fingers on the stem of the orchid, detecting touch location, proximity tracking, and estimating the amount of touch contact.
• The gesture recognition is accurate. It applies machine-learning techniques for precise and unambiguous recognition of gestures.
• It deconstructs the electrical properties of plants and replicates them using electrical components. This allows a broad variety of biologically inspired artificial plants that behave nearly exactly the same as their biological counterparts. The same sensing technology is used with both living and artificial plants, making them interchangeable.
A broad range of applications is possible with this technology: designing interactive, responsive environments; developing a new form of living interaction devices; and developing ambient and pervasive interfaces. At SIGGRAPH 2012, the technology’s versatility is demonstrated as an entertainment application where visitors can communicate with living and artificial plants by gesturing on them and observing the plants’ “response” in the form of rich computer-generated imagery and sound.