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February 20, 2007



The Plants Have Your Number

A small group of plants in a building in New York City is quietly exchanging information. Botanicalls--a project of a team of four students at the ITP program at NYU--allows thirsty plants to place phone calls for human help. When a plant on the botanicalls network needs a lot or a little water, it can call a human and ask for exactly what it needs. When humans phone the plants, the plants orient callers to their habits and characteristics, including how they like to be watered and cared for. Call 212.202.8348 to hear more about each of the plants.

Botanicalls opens a new channel of communication between plants and humans, in an effort to promote successful inter-species cohabitation and understanding. How? Plants call people about their needs. People can call the plants to understand them better. The project originally spawned from completely non-technical conversations about indoor container gardening and the air-filtration qualities of common houseplants. Our concern about bringing plants into the ITP community was their chance of survival-- high-paced technologists seldom have time to stop and smell the flowers, let alone water them. 'But, what if,' we wondered, 'the plants could call us and tell us what they needed when they needed it? If they assigned us tasks, would this alters or engages us,' and the project was born.


The Botanicalls project is fundamentally about communication between plants and people. We are empowering both by inventing new avenues of interaction. Plants that might otherwise be neglected are given the ability to call people and request assistance. People who are unsure of their ability to effectively care for growing things are given visual and aural clues.

The goals of this project:

1. Keep the plants alive through an interdependent relationship with co-habiting humans by translating the communication protocols of the plants (leaf habit, color of foliage, droop, etc) to more common human communication protocols (email, voice phone calls, digital visualizations, etc). More than keeping individual plants alive, we want to keep the system and project alive.

2. Make a connection between people and plants. Explore/enhance/create/visualize people's emotional connection to plants, the ways plants help humans, how caring for a shared resource can create sense of community, how natural life is a valuable counterpoint to our technical environment.

3. Gather data, create a complex and dynamic network, documentation for do-it-yourself style propagation of the project, record process. [via]

Posted by jo at February 20, 2007 02:54 PM