Sunflowers need the sun badly, hence their namesake. Well, robot-crazy Japan turns the tide by coming up with the Himawari prototype, a robot sunflower from Akira Nakayasu of Kyushu University that does not mimic heliotropism – the diurnal movement of flowers that track the sun as it moves across the sky during the day, as this robot will follow the motion of one’s hands instead. While it is impractical, you must begin to realize just what a technological leap this is, where it is made possible thanks to an infrared camera embedded within the flower’s head that captures light emitted by infrared LEDs. This light is reflected off hands waving nearby, where the Himawari will send signals to an attached PC for processing before the translated signals are returned to tell the servomotors where to move.
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