Raspberry Pi and Android Things Cross Pollinate & Create the Expression Flower

Resembling something from a 1960s episode of Star Trek, the Expression Flower is a remarkable, responsive creation that reacts to your facial expression with movement, and color. Thanks to careful design of the flower, the result is stunning and charming.

Who would have thought a robot could be so endearing?


The bill of materials for this build is considerable, requiring 3D printed parts for the flower itself (you’ll find the files for this, along with the code, at GitHub) which requires some dedicated concentration putting together along with the fiber optic cables. These bring structure to the project, as well as help to transmit color.

Meanwhile, a strip of LEDs is mounted in the middle of the flower, which sit around an ELP 720p USB Camera Module. Designed specifically for embedded projects, this camera is the perfect size for the flower, and can be safely customized to fit into the circular centre of the flower.

Controlling the motion of the flower via a 5V 20kg Full Metal Gear High Torque Servo is a Raspberry Pi 3, running Android Things. As the build notes explain “When the flower identifies a face, ML Kit running on Android Things infers expressions. Once the type of expression is determined, the flower responds with movement and color. This means when you smile, the flower smiles back at you.”

Imagine that: a flower that reacts to your presence using human-like non-verbal communication!

Housed in a 3D printed base stand, the Raspberry Pi 3 and servo motor are carefully positioned around a copper ‘stem’ tube, within which the electric cables and actuator wire are hidden.

LEDs, 3D printed PLA, fiber optics and pulley cable all combine with the Raspberry Pi 3 and USB camera to create a remarkable project that while ambitious, could no doubt be pushed further. Perhaps a flower that ‘recognises’ newcomers, or tries to hide from strangers? The possibilities here are endless, and the final result (if you can handle the intricacies of the build) guaranteed to stun.

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