The Re-Feed device could easily pass for a concept coffee maker, except what it makes is plant food: it liquefies your leftovers and pumps it directly into your flowerpots, all while sitting on your countertop.
Anyone with a green thumb will tell you that plants need both water and light to grow, but finding a nice sunny spot in most homes can be tricky. Belgian sculptor Stephen Verstraete has come up with the perfect solution, by putting his houseplants on robotic carts that automatically seek out the sun as it moves around the house.
Isn't this pretty? It's a little fruity berry type thing called Pollia condensata, from Africa, and it's the shiniest thing on the planet. We're talking "shiny" like Firefly shiny: something brilliant and awesome and sparkly that lasts forever, because there's no actual pigment going on in there: the color is structural, like a butterfly wing, and will never ever fade.
Berlin, Germany — I'm not sure to ridicule this golf club head-looking gadget I found at the IFA electronics show or admire the utter devotion to its cause — keeping your plants not just alive but practically human.
At SIGGRAPH 2012, there's an entire room dedicated to Emerging Technologies. "Emerging" might be a bit hasty: most of the stuff on display here is so new and bizarre that nobody has any idea what to do with it. If anything, this only adds to the awesomeness, and one of the weirdest things on display (by far) was this system from Disney research for tactile interaction with cyborg plants.
Bacteria are a nasty bunch, creating infections from the common to the horrific. Not only that, but they lurk pretty much everywhere. Now they may have met their match in a film created by Harvard scientists that is so slippery, it fools bacteria into thinking they can't attach there and grow. Major score for science!
Thanks to the miracle of modern technology, plants are now able to throw off the cruel chains of human oppression and survive without our help, provided they have access to an Arduino board, a water pump, and a reliable source of electricity.
There's absolutely no reason to do something peacefully and by hand when you could do it violently, with lasers, instead. Germany agrees, and scientists there are developing a system that replaces the task of pulling weeds with a system of plant-pulverizing semi-autonomous laser cannons.
There are two excellent reasons to grow plants out of your computer. One, it's pretty. Two, it's nutritious. Three, the waste heat actually helps the plants grow, and four, you're helping to offset the massive amounts of lifecycle carbon that your computer is responsible for.
They say that leaves don't grow on trees, and they're right: leaves grow in labs. Labs at MIT, where some exceptionally clever biochemists have reinvented the ol' tree finger and turned it into something that's useful for more than something to keep giraffes in business: this artificial leaf can take sunlight and convert it straight into hydrogen and oxygen.