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Disney boffins figure out how to turn plants into multi-touch sensors

This is ridiculously cool. The brains at Disney’s Pittsburgh research lab have figured out how to turn any plant into a responsive multi-touch sensor.

Stuart Thomas: Motorburn Editor
Stuart Thomas joined the Burn Media team in 2011 while finishing off an MA in South African Literature. Eager to prove his geek credentials, he allowed himself... More

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The project, called Botanicus Interacticus (which sounds kind of like a spell out of the Harry Potter universe) uses an electrode embedded in the soil below a plant that records the interruption of electronic signals when people touch the plant.

Those interruptions can then be programmed into audio and visual responses, programmed back to the user.

Imagine walking through a garden of these responsive plants at a Disney theme park one day. You’ll know how it works but you’ll probably still be awed by it. Now imagine a five-year old doing the same thing. That said, they might be a little disappointed when the plants back home don’t do the same thing.

Here’s a more detailed explanation of how the technology works:

Welcome to our sci-fi future.