SpikerBox allows plants to engage in interspecies conversation


This Venus flytrap has something to say. 


Backyard Brains

Backyard Brains — the team behind the remote controlled cockroach and the jam session with a squid — is at it again. This time, they’re giving plants a voice. With the Plant SpikerBox, certain species of plants can actually transmit a signal to another species. Essentially, the SpikerBox allows plant-to-plant interspecies communication.

A TED talk featuring the SpikerBox in action shows how it works. Using electrodes, the SpikerBox captures signals from a mobile plant such as a Venus flytrap when it springs into action. The electrodes work like an electrocardiogram or EKG — which measures heart rate by recording the electrical impulses on the skin.

When the flytrap senses its prey, it emits a similar electric signal which the SpikerBox detects. The SpikerBox can then send that signal to a data recorder on your PC or your phone. It can also send that signal to another plant. At the end of the TED talk, the presenter uses the Venus flytrap to trigger a defensive reaction in another plant called the Sensitive Mimosa Pudica. Check out the TED talk below to see talking plants in action.

Aimed at student scientists or anyone with a love of plants, experimentation and electrophysiology, the SpikerBox costs $150 and is available for purchase now. The purchase includes the electrodes you need to record data from the stems or leaves of your plant, and you’ll be able to capture data on your computer or phone to see what makes them tick.


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