Applying real-life musical plants to advertising

By AdNews | 29 August 2012

Clemenger BBDO Sydney executive creative director Paul Nagy looks at some futuristic interactive plant technology from Disney and asks 'How can we apply it to advertising?'

Nagy takes a look at some funky new technology from Disney's research and development lab, where an electrode is stuck into a living plant, which allows the plant to be played like an electronic instrument.

Make sure you take a look at the video below because it is pretty amazing.

Nagy said: “This is not about advertising, not yet at least, but it is about something that reminded me there’s still plenty of new stuff left out there in the world for advertisers to discover and play with.

“I don’t know why I was starting to feel like there wasn’t, but with the Internet making the world feel like a giant Shrinky Dink, one can quickly feel like you’ve seen it all.

“The thing I’m talking about is called Botanicus Interacticus, and it’s from Disney’s R&D lab. It’s described as “…technology for designing highly expressive interactive plants, both living and artificial.” Too many big words in there for me, but the video shows something far simpler and more romantic.

“Basically you stick an electrode in the soil near a real, living plant, and the technology allows you to interact with it on a screen through touch – kinda like turning an orchid into the world’s most unique trackpad.

“At first it’s interesting without being amazing, then you suddenly see how touching different fronds could open different days of your online diary or applications. It shows how each leaf could be assigned a different note, and then by rustling the leaves you can play music like previously only the wind must have thought it could. It’s so blindingly simple and beautiful, and seemed just a little like magic.

“In fact, it’s so delightful an idea that I almost baulked at thinking about attaching a commercial idea to it. But then after showing a few people I realised the first response was almost always, 'Great, but why?'

“And that’s where we so often come in. I have such wonderful, lateral minds in my creative department, and I know there are many guys like me out there surrounded by equally amazing imaginations. I wonder what they will do with this?”

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