The Past and Future of Plant-Robot Cybernetics
The word “cybernetics” typically calls to mind the relationship between humans and robots. However, other living beings benefit from an attachment to robots. Plants and technology don't seem like they'd go together — after all, one is artificially made and the other is naturally occurring — but engineers have been working to give plants robot-assisted autonomy.
People should know what to look forward to as more technology becomes readily available for society's consumption, as well as how they can incorporate technology and nature into their homes in the present.
Why Nature With Technology Is the Future
People have started to recognize that a balance between nature and technology is for the best. Many have tried to disconnect and escape into the natural world. Unsurprisingly, tech has become such a huge part of society that it's likely impossible to detach from it completely. Advances continue to improve with time, and it's better to embrace the changes while leaning into the nostalgic feel of nature.
Simply being in nature can reduce a person's stress and improve their mood, allowing their brain and body to function better. Instead of moving everything outdoors, it's more feasible for people to incorporate the environment into their homes. Combining nature and robots can benefit humans through convenience and stress-relieving properties.
Biophilic interior design has been on the rise for a while. It brings the outdoors inside through subtle changes, making this style attainable for anyone, even those planning a cheaper, smaller-scale remodel. Natural materials win overall, but incorporating evolving technology can also improve the quality of life in someone's home.
Humans will see their indoor quality of life improve by partnering plants and robots. Biophilic design isn't necessarily the same as eco-friendly design, though some overlap may exist. Instead of focusing on building with sustainable materials, it aims to incorporate nature. Biophilic design isn't everywhere yet, but its benefits are undeniable — and technology can work with nature for the better.
Where Plants and Robots Unite Currently
Robot-powering plants haven't always been readily available, but involving nature in home design will continue to increase in popularity. As people become more acclimated to having technology in their homes, they start to gravitate toward things that combine the future of technology and the relaxation and creativity of nature.
1. Living Walls
Living walls of plants can be installed on just about any interior, incorporating nature and breaking up some of the harsh lines created by human construction. Nature can help cool rooms and provide cleaner air without an air purifier.
People growing herbs or having a plant wall in their homes can use automatic watering systems that will allow their plants to thrive. There have already been prototypes that have successfully helped plants take care of themselves, freeing up more time for busy homeowners.
2. Light Systems
A balanced circadian rhythm helps with stabilizing people's moods and helping them feel tired when they're supposed to sleep. Nature has inspired technological advancements through tunable LEDs that can give off several colors and intensities of light, mimicking every moment of daylight.
This range of daylight in a single LED can assist people who don't operate by the constraints of a traditional day. These lights work with human systems, not against them, allowing them to get better sleep at night. It could also be great for homeowners looking for a sustainable alternative to halogen or incandescent lightbulbs, especially since LEDs last much longer than their counterparts and ultimately pay off.
3. Dynamic Glass
Nature has inspired people so much that they want it in their homes, but managing privacy while experiencing nature can be difficult. Dynamic glass, while not entirely robotic, helps solve this issue by giving homeowners the privacy they need for their windows with the ability to see outside. This glass protects against harsh UV rays and allows homeowners to enjoy the views of nature without worrying about blinds or curtains.
This glass makes homes feel more open and let people enjoy the natural beauty of the outdoors just outside their windows.
4. Automatic Fountains
Many people feel relaxed in nature because the sounds are enough to lull them to sleep. The brain remains active during sleep, and soothing sounds can result in adequate rest without worry. A trickling fountain can mimic natural water noises, and it's easy to see how this can be incorporated into the home.
Fountains can often be operated on timers or controlled by an app. They can also double as water sources for pets. Someone with a fountain on a self-timer can program the noise to be most prominent when they sleep.
What Could the Future Be Like With Plant-Robot Cybernetics?
Some people have difficulties keeping their plants alive. It might mean having fewer fruits in a garden, whether food items or flowers. Alternatively, a plant that means a lot to someone could take a turn for the worse after missing a few waterings and proper care.
In the future, robots specifically designed to help plants might be just as common as the plants themselves. These machines respond to a plant’s physiological needs by seeking water and sunlight when their bio-electrochemical signals call for it. The plant would control the robot and drive itself to a new location of the house, depending on what it requires at the moment. This upgrade would allow people to focus more on their other household duties and worry less about taking care of their greenery.
As time goes on, humans may be able to harness plants to do other things. For example, an average philodendron controlled a machete based on its own inputs, not anyone else’s. Technology can make these advances more common, transforming homes worldwide by marrying robotics and nature.
Looking Into the Future by Embracing the Past
People often have the misconception that technology and nature can't work together. Fortunately, engineers are changing this notion by learning how plants work and how they can have their own autonomy to get what they need and take some of the responsibilities off busy humans' shoulders. The best way to lean into these changes is to adopt them slowly, and a household can get used to nature and technology working together for their benefit.
In the future, every home may see plants wheeling around to get to a patch of sunlight so they can continue thriving alongside humans.
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