Porn Vs. Plants: Guess Which One Is Winning?

Posted on Jan 11, 2018
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The beginning of a new year gives everyone a fresh start. Scientific studies show people really do feel extra motivation to set and accomplish goals thanks to the power of believing in the opportunity for a new beginning and another chance to get things right.

Here I am at the 2017 TPIE Show wearing the latest high tech glasses. Pretty sexy aren’t they?

I get excited at the beginning of the year, because it means one of my favorite annual conferences and trade shows is just days away: the Tropical Plants International Expo (TPIE) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, which takes place every year in the middle of January. Most people at the show love getting away from their cold weather at home. I love starting my year seeing the latest trends in plants and products, getting ideas and making connections with all the smart people coming up with innovations for integrating plants and nature into our lives.

We get to walk through five acres of displays with living plants and eyepopping displays. It’s a virtual botanical garden. This is my version of a candy store!

While I’m getting revved up for TPIE, most of the rest of the world is already revved up about a much bigger conference, the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. This is the Super Bowl for techies and nerds, where all of the latest gadgets and technology innovations make their debut. Some products are only at the concept stage and they are still years away from becoming part of our everyday lives.

Virtual reality is the hottest trend at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show.

Virtual reality and augmented reality are red hot at CES 2018, and they have been for quite a few years. It’s amazing to learn how tech companies are creating virtual experiences and complete virtual worlds for us to inhabit. When people can immerse themselves inside a fantasy world while playing a thrilling video game, you can’t really blame them for not wanting to come back to their “real” life.

To me though, the real life world created by nature is just as satisfying as any video game. So I’m a little disappointed there isn’t more of a connection yet between the people at CES 2018 this week, and those of us at TPIE 2018 next week.

So many of us are becoming completely dependent and addicted to technology. We know it’s not always healthy for us. We are destroying our sleep cycles by disrupting our exposure to natural light and darkness. We are losing touch with people in favor of screens. I’m most concerned when people lose touch with nature, spending more and more time indoors. They develop a “Vitamin N deficit,” and it’s a real phenomenon that affects our health on every level. Human beings have a biophilic connection to nature they need to function at the highest level.

Why aren’t there more people interested in recreating nature with virtual reality to see if it’s possible to harness the benefits of biophilia and biophilic design with technology? Maybe I missed it, but when I went through the list of exhibitors at CES 2018, there were no products attempting to integrate nature and technology into everyday life for the benefit of human beings.

Growing veggies in this tabletop system is as high tech as nature gets at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show. Can't we do a little better than this? Photo: Courtesy Aspara

Growing veggies in this tabletop system is as high tech as nature gets at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show. Can’t we do a little better than this? Photo: Courtesy Aspara

The closest any exhibitor came to integrating nature were from two Asian companies. One sells a high tech countertop veggie farm for your home, the other sells a super duper plant care sensor that ties to a smartphone app. Nice and all but is this really the best we can do?

According to a Los Angeles Times article this week, the pornography industry has gone all in on virtual reality. Of course! Here’s how you know a technology innovation is going to be successful: when porn adopts it. Why did the VCR become so popular? People could watch porn at home instead of in public at a theater. The Internet? Same thing. Now the porn industry sees the potential in virtual reality. None of the tech companies will admit it publicly, but it’s true.

Virtual reality needs to get real... as in exploring nature. It's way more exciting than porn.

Virtual reality needs to get real… as in exploring nature.

Isn’t there anyone enterprising enough or philanthropic enough to use virtual reality to immerse people into nature to improve their mental, spiritual, and physical wellbeing? We know it works. There’s plenty of science to back it up. It blows my mind there isn’t a healthcare organization or a nonprofit willing to invest in biophilic virtual reality to improve the health of its patients.

Five years ago, Sue Thomas created the term “technobiophilia,” and we recently wrote about it.  We recommended some of our favorite nature videos. Videos are great, and we love them. But with all the impressive products and innovations on display at CES 2018 in Las Vegas this week, isn’t it time to integrate the principles of biophilia and biophilic design into virtual reality products and harness them for something a little more vital to our wellbeing than pornography or fantasy games?

In the meantime, I will make my way to Florida next week and get my thrills checking the greatest and most advanced design systems and products ever made, all thanks to Mother Nature. Look for a full report in next week’s blog post!