Turning plants into capacitive sensors with tinyAVR

A young Maker duo experiments with plants as a capacitive material.

Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design students Francesca Desmarais and Paula Te recently used tinyAVR microcontrollers to turn plants into capacitive sensors.


Using an ATTiny MCU with Arduino’s Capacitive Sensing Library, the Maker duo built a circuit that could be clipped onto plants. The closer another capacitive object got to the pot, such as one’s hand, the faster the LED would blink.

“We started out clipping the circuit to non-organic sensors like aluminum foil and metal cans to discover that surface area positively correlates with sensitivity. As we continued our experiments, we learned the importance of grounding both the to earth, so that both sensors share the same ground.”


Experimenting with plants as a capacitive material allowed the students to better understand capacitance and basic electronics on the atomic level. Interested in learning more? Head over to the project’s official page here.

1 thought on “Turning plants into capacitive sensors with tinyAVR

  1. Pingback: Using Plants as Proximity Sensors – TinkerDad

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