Botanicalls: The Plants Have Your Number
How It Works > The Plants > The Brains: The Sensors and Network > The Phone


The original Botanicalls system (initally developed in 2006) enabled houseplants to make phone calls in an effort to open a new channel of communication between plants and humans.

Botanicalls Classic allows plants to place phone calls for human help. When a plant on the Botanicalls Classic network needs water, it can call a person and ask for exactly what it needs. When people phone the plants, the plants orient callers to their botanical characteristics. Call 212.202.8348 to hear more about each of the plants.

The project originally spawned from completely non-technical conversations about indoor container gardening and the air-filtration qualities of common houseplants while we were graduate students at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program. 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?’

We were interested in empowering both people and plants 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.

Goals of Botanicalls Classic

1. Keep the plants alive 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).

2. Enhance people’s connection to plants, and explore the ways plants help humans, how caring for a shared resource can create sense of community, and how natural life is a valuable counterpoint to our technical environment.

3. Maintain a sense of humor at all times.

New kits are here!


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