Hoshinchu, a Japanese start-up, has raised over $500,000 (£350,000) in funding for its new project Air Bonsai. The cultivation of the miniature plant is an ancient Japanese botanical art, but the company has added a hint of modern technology to make the plant floats with the power of magnetic levitation.
Air Bonsai consists of two elements: the floating plant or living moss ball that contains a built-in magnet and an "energy base" that also has a built-in magnet and runs on an AC adapter. The two magnets have the same poles, with the repelling force carefully balanced so that the bonsai trees 'float' on an invisible cushion of magnetic energy.
On crowd-funding site Kickstarter, Hoshinchu has received more than half a million dollars for the project after launching with an initial goal of just $80,000 in January. The start-up aims to ship its products this August.
Bonsai – literally meaning "potted planting" – became popular as a way of bringing nature inside for many Japanese whose small houses made gardens impossible. Traditional bonsai growing, introduced to Japan from China between 1185-1333, keeps the trees small enough to be grown in a container. Various techniques, including painstaking pruning and wiring, are used to give the trees a mature appearance.