Image: Kazue Nishi listens to a Ka-on.
Shizuo Kambayashi  /  AP
Kazue Nishi of Let's Corp. listens to music through a bouquet of yellow calla lilies during a demonstration of the company's new invention.
updated 9/13/2004 3:07:03 PM ET 2004-09-13T19:07:03

The therapeutic power of flowers takes on new meaning with a Japanese gadget that turns plants into audio speakers, making the petals and leaves tremble with good vibrations.

Called Ka-on, which means "flower sound" in Japanese, the machine consists of a donut-shaped magnet and coil at the base of a vase that hooks up to a CD player, stereo or TV.

Place the flowers into the vase, turn on Ka-on and the magnet and coil relay the sound vibrations up the stems through the plant's water tubes.

Near your ear and hear the music emanate from the petals. Touch a leaf, and feel it shake as though in a quiet dance.

Later this month, you'll be able to carry on a telephone conversation with a flower with a planned speaker phone model.

Unlike regular speakers, which send sound in one direction, Ka-on shoots it in all directions, filling an entire room with music in a more natural ambiance.

Masumi Gotoh, president of Let's Corp., a Nagoya-based telecommunications-equipment company that developed and manufactures Ka-on, calls it ideal for flower table-arrangements at weddings, reception desks at hospitals and decoration at restaurants.

Ka-on vases and amplifiers come in various sizes, ranging in price from $46 to $460. There's a version that works with potted plants, and a wireless connection will soon be available for piping music to the Ka-on.

Not only does Ka-on deliver flowery music, it keeps bugs off plants and helps cut flowers last longer, Gotoh claims.

"The plant is happy listening to music," says Gotoh, showing off a rubber plant hooked up to Ka-on in his Tokyo office. "Gerberas and sunflowers work especially well as speakers."

Ka-on is also being used for concerts. Several Ka-on were planted near a bamboo grove to play music at a recent event in Japan.

About 3,000 of $46 Ka-on version, on sale via the Internet since July, have been sold and some 10,000 orders have been received so far.

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