If you are anything like me, you probably just recently got your mom some flowers for Mothers Day. Moms loves receiving flowers (who doesn’t) but if you stop and think about it, fresh cut flowers are really quite a wasteful gift. They cost a lot, they can take up to a year to grow, and once they are cut they wither within a week. And plastic flowers are just tacky. Usually. At the ITP show tonight I stumbled across this interactive plastic flower – and I was quite taken with it. So much so that I wanted to take it home with me. Unfortunately the flower had a bunch of wires coming out of the bottom, which were plugged into the wall, so I didn”t get very far.

Networked Flowers is the project of 3 ITP students: Doria Fan, Jason Kaufman, and Mauricio Melo, to develop a platform for digitally communicating gestures and emotions. The acrylic “flower” sculpture is made up of 25 LEDs and a touch sensor controlled by a PIC, which connects to a network. Through the web, (or even through your cellphone) you can remotely control the color and light pattern emitted by the flower. So if you gave this to your mom for Mothers day, you could send her different “bouquets,” via cellphone, everytime you think of her. She’d be touched, I’m sure. Awesome! No more need to get another gift ever!
This would also make a cute nightlight for a kids room.

During the time that I watched this flower, it changed from blue to white, to pink, to orange. The flower looked like it should open and close, since the “petals” appeared to be attached by swiveling hinge thingies. Alas, the flower did not bloom and closed as I had hoped. It looked like maybe this had been an initial part of the concept that the designers hadn’t gotten around to executing. I think the Networked Flower is an interesting idea, but could probably be pushed a bit further. (Networked blooming flower? Networked music-playing flower? Networked flower that speaks text messages to you? Alarm clock flower?) Nevertheless the project was quite well crafted for the ITP show, and appealing just as it is. Next Mother’s Day its gonna be Networked Flower all the way.