Cyborg Botany: Exploring In-Planta Cybernetic Systems for Interaction

Harpreet Sareen and Pattie Maes. 2019. Cyborg Botany: Exploring In-Planta Cybernetic Systems for Interaction. In Extended Abstracts of the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI EA '19). ACM, New York, NY, USA


Our traditional interaction possibilities have centered around our electronic devices. In recent years, the progress in electronics and material science has enabled us go beyond chip layer and work at the substrate level. This has helped us rethink form, sources of power, hosts and in turn new interaction possibilities. However, the design of such devices has mostly been ground up and fully synthetic. In this paper, we discuss the analogy between artificial functions and natural capabilities in plants. Through two case studies, we demonstrate bridging unique natural operations of plants with the digital world. Each desired synthetic function is grown, injected carefully or placed in conjunction with a plant’s natural functions. Our goal is to make use of sensing and expressive abilities of nature for our interaction devices. Merging synthetic circuitry with plant’s own physiology could pave a way to make these lifeforms responsive to our interactions and their ubiquitous sustainable deployment. 

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