Select your localized edition:

Close ×

More Ways to Connect

Discover one of our 28 local entrepreneurial communities »

Be the first to know as we launch in new countries and markets around the globe.

Interested in bringing MIT Technology Review to your local market?

MIT Technology ReviewMIT Technology Review - logo


Unsupported browser: Your browser does not meet modern web standards. See how it scores »

{ action.text }

Flower Dance

A bed of colorful robotic flowers that respond to human movement is causing a stir at the National Design Triennial at the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York City. Created by Cynthia Breazeal, PhD ‘00, and her robotic-life group at the Media Laboratory, the flowers were designed to challenge commonly held assumptions about what robots can be.

“People think robots are utilitarian, but they can touch you on an emotional and aesthetic level, too,” says Breazeal.

The 60-centimeter-high flowers, made of materials including translucent acrylic, aluminum, and copper, sit in a “soil” of metal shavings atop a table sheathed in brushed aluminum. At rest, the flowers pulse like a heartbeat, but when their built-in sensors detect a visitor approaching, they perk up and sway in response to the visitor’s movements.

“Children are dazzled by them, and adults are amazed,” says curator Donald Albrecht. “Then they want to know how they work.” Two large cutouts in the table show the G4 Macintosh below that runs the exhibit, some of the 58 motors that power the flowers, and a huge tangle of cables.

The exhibition runs through January 25 and also includes work by Media Lab professor Tod Machover, Benjamin Fry, SM ‘00, and Maggie Orth, SM ‘93, PhD ‘01.

1 comment. Share your thoughts »

Reprints and Permissions | Send feedback to the editor

From the Archives


Introducing MIT Technology Review Insider.

Already a Magazine subscriber?

You're automatically an Insider. It's easy to activate or upgrade your account.

Activate Your Account

Become an Insider

It's the new way to subscribe. Get even more of the tech news, research, and discoveries you crave.

Sign Up

Learn More

Find out why MIT Technology Review Insider is for you and explore your options.

Show Me