By Alexandra Alexa
Merging plants with our digital electronics to create a radical new interface might sound like the premise of a Black Mirror episode, but it's exactly what researchers at MIT Media Lab's Fluid Interfaces Group are exploring.
Harpreet Sareen and Pattie Maes started their research with Elowan, a plant-robot that responds to light. Silver electrodes were attached to the plant's leaves, where they could pick up the electrical signals within the plant that react to the presence of light and route them to a robotic stand underneath. When light sources were placed near the plant, those signals would trigger the wheels to autonomously move in the direction of the light source.