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Motorola hires Disney scientist who made plants sing

Motorola hires Disney scientist who made plants sing

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Motorola has hired one of the world's premier interaction designers, Dr. Ivan Poupyrev. Poupyrev, voted one of the world's most creative people in 2013 by Fast Company, comes to the Google-owned phone manufacturer from Disney Research.

He joins Motorola to work in the Google-owned company's Advanced Technology and Products department, run by Regina Dugan, the former head of DARPA. The first phone produced by the department under Google, the Moto X, hasn't yet been a sweeping commercial success. But the customizable smartphone does incorporate innovative interaction technologies: Poupyrev's specialty.

Poupyrev spent five years as a principal research scientist at Disney's Carnegie Mellon university lab. There, he worked on projects that included the creation of Swept Frequency Capacitive Sensing, a technology that allows almost any object to become sensitive to human touch with a single wire. Poupyrev demonstrated the technology to The Verge last year by incorporating it into vegetation, making potted plants "sing" when their leaves or stems were stroked.

Dr. Poupyrev will work with the team that most recently produced the Moto X

Poupyrev recounted his "iconic" new employer's storied history. "Motorola invented the cellphone. The first Apples ran on Motorola chips, and their chips were instrumental in the Apollo program." The phone-maker's future under Google reportedly excites the scientist. "In a small way," he tells Fast Company, "I can help shape the future of the company."