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1-min read

'Cyborg Botany': Scientists Have Come Up With a New Way of Reducing E-Waste

Cyborg botany defines the process that harnesses the natural capabilities of plants to turn them into electronic devices.

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Updated:June 27, 2019, 2:12 PM IST
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'Cyborg Botany': Scientists Have Come Up With a New Way of Reducing E-Waste
Cyborg botany defines the process that harnesses the natural capabilities of plants to turn them into electronic devices.
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Harpreet Sareen, an Assistant Professor at the Parsons School of Design and a research affiliate at MIT Media Lab and his research partner Pattie Maes think that it could be possible to replace artificial devices with cyborg plants to reduce e-waste. They have coined the term 'Cyborg Botany' and it defines the process that harnesses the natural capabilities of plants to turn them into electronic devices.

Currently, the researchers have two projects, Phytoactuators (which act as outputs) and Planta Digitalis (which act as inputs), where they hacked into the electronic signals of a Venus Flytrap and a Mimosa Pudica to prove that plants can, in fact, act as displays or even motion sensors.

According to researchers, Phytoactuators can, for example, trigger a Venus flytrap to allow it to receive signals through an accompanying while in Planta Digitalis, the researchers grew a conductive wire inside a plant, allowing it to connect to other instruments like sensors of antenna.

At the recent ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Glasgow, the scientists presented a few examples of how plants could come in handy.

According to the researchers, while general interactions with plant organisms in nature are subtle, their work is in sharp contrast. This means that a person can tell a plant to do something, and the plant can also communicate some information back.

They build on Sareen and Maes' previous project Elowan – a plant-robot hybrid powered by the organism's need for light.

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