project florence

Photo via Project Florence (CC-BY)

For years, gardeners have said talk to your roses. Now Microsoft is trying to make that a reality.

The idea of talking to plants isn’t new. In the 1800s, Gustav Fechner suggested that plants could benefit from being spoken too, and you’ve probably heard a gardener make the same claim at some point in your life. But what about talking with plants, and actually getting a response? For the first time that may be possible, thanks to the Microsoft funded Project Florence.

Project Florence is an experiment into how information is processed between humans and plants. A plant is put into a sensor-filled housing which is connected to a computer. The user types a message to the plant using a keyboard. That message is then analyzed and your sentiment is turned into flashes of colored light. These changing light frequencies stimulate a response in the plant in the form of readable electrical signals.

Once the plant’s reaction has been captured it is translated into words by searching Twitter for tweets that match its mood. We can only imagine there were some adorably profane messages from a rose bush during testing. You can watch a short video walk through of the project below. 

The practical applications of this technology are still being discovered, but it’s fascinating to think about the possible implications. If we can communicate with plants simply using the right light patterns, perhaps one day we’ll be able to encourage crop growth with simply the right amount of water and a little “mood lighting.”

H/T Fast Co Design

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