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Internet of organic things

Plants that tweet and pets that ping

Does your prize rose bush send you an email when it needs specific nutrients, or tweet incessantly when it’s thirsty? Does your Labrador retriever ping you on your smartphone, when he’s restless and wants a walk? Only if you’ve got smart soil sensors, for the rose, and a smart dog-collar for the Lab.

But all these things we’ve connected to the ‘net, they all need power – battery power, and even enhanced with tiny solar cells, like all electronics, they eventually wear out and have to be replaced, or get damaged by their biologically intense environments.

Now there’s a breakthrough that solves all that. Building sensors out of bacteria, connectors out of strands of DNA, and batteries out of microbes, gives plants and animals the natural ability to be connected. It’s the internet of living things.

Back in 2017, scientists discovered that they could program bacteria to take on specific dome-like shapes; when seeded with gold nanoparticles, the domes became conductive pressure switches. But this was only the start.

Now plants, fungi, yeasts and microbes can have connectable sensors programmed right into their biological makeup, so that a maize plant can report its own growing conditions, or an apple can tweet when it’s ripe for picking. Soon livestock will automatically report on milk production and gestation. And you won’t have to check your pets’ health. They’ll let you know by WhatsApp.

If only this technology could be used on humans. I’m so tired of all these wearables and implants that need constant attention. Why can’t they just be part of us, like organs and skin cells? And run on cake and coffee, instead of batteries!

Warning: Hazardous thinking at work

Despite appearances to the contrary, Futureworld cannot and does not predict the future. Our Mindbullets scenarios are fictitious and designed purely to explore possible futures, challenge and stimulate strategic thinking. Use these at your own risk. Any reference to actual people, entities or events is entirely allegorical. Copyright Futureworld International Limited. Reproduction or distribution permitted only with recognition of Copyright and the inclusion of this disclaimer.