1A – Basic Circuits Project – Needy Plant

Group Members: Anna Failla, Brian Yang, Grant Della Silva
Roles: Brian Yang, Grant Della Silva as Integrator, Anna Failla as Designer, and All as scribe


Everyone has heard of the age old adage that talking to plants makes them grow, but is there a way to create a more intimate experience between you and your plant? What are the possibilities of what human-plant interaction be?

We answered these questions with the help of our friend Vincent, the needy plant.

Typical human-plant interaction is a brief encounter. Once (maybe twice) a day, the human provides water to sustain the plants life then continues on with their routine. This interaction lacks intimacy and provides no incentive for the human to stay and talk with their plant. Plants are subject to higher growth patterns when their human companion takes the time to open up their rbcS and Ald genes by talking with them. Their genes that absorb light are actually activated by the 70 decibels that our voice can provide.

In order to facilitate affection towards Vincent we created a huggable pot.

Water is dispensed when the plant receives affection. To keep your plant alive, give it a hug. As a one-in/one-out process, *Needy Plants* maps human affection onto the well-being of the plant. Concretely, a touch or hug directly corresponds to watering the plant. Too little affection, and the plant wilts and dies. Too much, and the plant drowns in its pot.

The huggable pot allows the user to spend more than just a moment with their plant. This encourages them to whisper sweet words to their friend to help it grow and give it the TLC it really needs.


Technical Notes

Electronics: The circuit is very simple. A pump is powered by one nine volt battery, regulated by a variable-resistance pressure sensor. Without pressure, the resistance is very high and the pump does not engage. When applying pressure, the resistance drops and the pump engages. To construct a variable-resistance pressure sensor, a sheet of velostat was sandwiched between conductive tape and conductive fabric.

Fabrication: The plant rests on a “pedestal” wrapped in felt. Pressure sensors are hidden under the felt. The circuitry, pump, and water reservoir are concealed within the pedestal. Plastic tubing rising from the pedestal base connects the water reservoir with the plant pot and also provides a drainage tube that recycles back into the main reservoir. The pedestal is a re-purposed table-leg riser that is divided by a wall into compartments for the water reservoir and circuit. Components are held in place underneath the riser with hot glue, tape, and velcro. Holes were drilled in the riser for tubing and wiring.


Needy Plant

Needy Plant

Needy Plant Embrace

Needy Plant Embrace

Pedestal Exposed

Pedestal Exposed

Needy Plant Interior

Needy Plant Interior

Early Prototype -  Circuit Board

Early Prototype – Circuit Board

Currcit Diagram

Circuit Diagram of Needy Plant


More interesting information on the relationship between human interaction and plant growth can be found at http://vegonline.org/vegetarian-lifestyle/does-talking-to-plants-really-help-them-grow/ which details a study done by South Korea’s National Institute of Agricultural Biotechnology on talking to plants and http://www.discovery.com/tv-shows/mythbusters/mythbusters-database/talking-to-plants.htm which summarizes and experiment on plant growth done by the MythBusters.