Interactive plants hold key to future interfaces

Scientists at Disney Research have developed a plant based touch interface in a slightly strange yet fascinating project titled Botanicus Interacticus. The project demonstrates how users can control audio and video signals by touching foliage in different ways. A single electrode placed in the plant's soil turns it into an expressive, multitouch, gesture sensitive controller.

Botanicus Interacticus applies Swept Frequency Capacitive Sensing (SFCS) technology to greenery. It detects multiple frequencies of electrical signals, rather than the single frequency detected by standard capacitive touch sensing technology.

When coupled with machine learning algorithms different gestures and touches can be detected reliably and with high precision.

Disney staged an "augmented garden" in Los Angeles at the interactive technology exhibition, Sigraph 2012. Visitors are encouraged to touch a number of plants to create differing visual and audio effect.