How can we provide a plant with the ability to communicate with a human – and what does a plant have to say?

We wanted to create a stronger bond between the plant and the human. We believed that by giving the plant abilities to communicate by sound and motion the human would recognise it as a living being.

“A Georgia Tech researcher has found that many Roomba owner’s name, dress up and genuinely worry about their Roombas, as if they were living pets.”
My Roomba is Rambo

We created a mood diagram for a plant, inspired by animals. We wanted our plant to be able to communicate with humans, but not communicate as a human.

Natural Interaction
“What if we could devise natural means of interaction between people and machines? Could we learn from the way that skilled riders interact with horses? Perhaps”
Don Norman, The Design of Future Things.

The fictional research group Attenborough Design Group was a great inspiration for this project.

A pet-like plant

In the final concept, our plant was able to cover from harsh sunlight. It also had the ability to beep sad noises if it was too dark or too sunny. It was also able to beep happily if the light was just right.

The process

The project was done in 4 weeks with one lecture per week. The final concept was heavily defined by what components we had at our hands. So we chose to work primarily a light sensor, a piezo buzzer and a step motor.

Remember sound!
Test of light sensor code.

This project was done during my specialization course in Designing Interactions at ITU, 2019, together with 3 other students: Daniel Brandt-Olsen, Gerd Geleff Nielsen and Simon Hansen. Duration 4 lectures + some evenings.

Github documentation by Daniel Brandt-Olsen