This Plant Makes Music

Andrew Lampard
This Could Be Big

The Magic Kingdom is synonymous with Walt Disney World, but that name could easily stand in for Disney Research Pittsburgh, a Disney-owned research facility in -- you guessed it -- Pittsburgh.

To see why, look no further than one of the lab’s latest creations: a musical plant.

Called the “Botanicus Interacticus,” this sonorous plant emits a harp-like melody when its petals are touched. How? By placing an electrode in the plant’s soil, engineers can map a hundred different frequencies around the plant.

When someone sweeps those frequencies by touching the plant, a computer connected to the electrode registers the touch and translates it into musical notes that play out from a speaker. This would also work on any conductive object, including a human being.

Music just seemed like an appropriate output for this technology, explained Jessica Hodgins, Disney Lab Pittsburgh’s director: “It could be be triggering computer graphics, a light show, or any other kind of signal.”

Hodgins shrouded the lab’s mission in secrecy. She would only divulge that they conduct R&D for Disney’s amusement parks and its consumer products. Full disclosure: ABC News is owned by the Walt Disney Company.

Regardless of its eventual use, the musical plan demands to be heard now. Watch the video above to hear its beautiful melodies. What would you play on its petals?