Fashion & design, Agriculture, Food
Hello! We are Antoine Berr and Carlos Santana, industrial design students from ENSCI–Les Ateliers.
For the last two years, our almost daily challenge was to help our vegetal comrades to fulfill their natural necessity for water, sunlight, nourishment and heat. The conditions for their development weren't always obtained that easily: different plants have different needs, and different places can provide a wide range of different environments.
Biobot is an interactive connected greenhouse. Our idea is to use Arduino to manage the evolution of a plant: first by automatically providing it with water supply, light cycles and ventilation, and later by placing captors to feed their temperature, humidity and light measurements to an online app. This way, Biobot will be able to control the plant's environmental conditions by compensating for eventual changes in these parameters, and keep you informed everywhere you go.
Our goal is to better understand and participate of the life of our plants by getting connected to them: we want to use Biobot to keep an eye on their habitat all day long in order to make sure they are having the best condition for their development – while having an awesome time.
First of all, the basics: water. You'll need a container just big enough to house a couple of litres in order to feed the plant, as well as some empty space over the top of it to accommodate the roots. You'll also need a small pump to get the liquid flowing and irrigate our friend.
Then all you'll have to do is to place a grow tray on the top of the container, introduce our mate to its new home and we are ready to go!
We're not ashamed to say that for us the cover is the part that matters most: it is a luxurious automated house that offers your plant a nice panoramic view to your place and provide it with all the light, heating and aeration it needs... that goes without saying, with an Arduino board that will manage all of this technological goodness.
In three words.. PLUG AND PLAY!
Everything began in 2012, at ENSCI's Plateau du 4. As we were working on a hiking project from the middle of Paris, it became clear to us and to our colleagues that we had no choice but to find a way to be surrounded by nature in order to extract us from the city and to project ourselves into the mountains.
That's why we began to grow some seeds... And after a couple of weeks of pure love and devotion, we were dazzled to see that our first plants were coming into this world – in the heart of a design school.
As these new living beings joined our team and became our buddies, it was our utmost responsibility to offer them the best possible way to grow and flourish as they deserved.
We soon had to settle them in a larger flat (a tough one in Paris, trust us), and quickly they could become independent. We had to rearrange our workspace to make sure each one of them was getting as most sunlight as possible.
By the end of this adventure, we moved to southern France in order to take part of the ENSCI atelier located at MINATEC's IDEAs Lab, a part of the CEA Grenoble campus. Last winter was particularly harsh in the French alps, and we were happy to see the first of the spring's warm sun – but surely not as much as our plants.
They finally woke up from their sleep and soon started shaping up for spring!
Following the cycle of life, Pachamama this time had a gift for us: she gave us flowers, that soon turned into delicious strawberries and tomatoes. Our long dedication finally paid back!
As we were surrounded by captors in our workshops, we started geeking out and experimenting with our buddies... (you'll notice the big tomato plant in the background)
We had to come back to Paris by the end of the semester, and it was really complicated to bring all of them with us (we are talking about six 3'5" tomato plants, as well as a bunch of strawberries and multiple aromatic herbs). We chose to leave most of them in the expert hands of Nathalie and Stéphanie (they will surely recognize themselves!) and finish our Isèrean stay at the Jardin des Cairns, over the slopes of the Bastille.
Now back to the City of Light, it's all melancholy and sadness as we're back in our tiny dark apartments... and as we watch our friends struggle to survive without the fresh air from the mountains.
Winter came, and we noticed it was going to be impossible for our buddies to make it because of the reduced sunlight and low temperatures. But we're not the kind of people that give up... that's why we're back to work!
We're starting from scratch, bundling together an irrigation system, a lighting equipment and a plant.
Our goal couldn't be more simple: in the end of it all, we just want to cut our plants, plug them, admire their growth, watch their flowers bloom, harvest their fruits and replant. Every piece of plant is good enough, and the whole world is our database!
But in order to do this seamlessly, we still have a lot of work until we completely control the plant's environment using Arduino and a bunch of captors. And that's why we need your help.
Three months ago, all we had was an idea. Today, after lots of little or no sleep and a good bit of consistent mindfuck, we have produced a first low-cost proof of concept that represents the progression of our design process. For the next thirty days, we'll show you the life of our little basil friend Tobbia, and will take care of her using our first prototype. We'll keep working on it, and you'll be kept posted of our latest findings and developments.
We will share the life of this little plant with you: during the next 30 days, join us in the wonderful act of taking care of a living being,by providing the best possible conditions for sustaining its life using Arduino-controlled components.
You're invited to get in touch. We'd love to hear back and to exchange ideas with you. Together, we hope to achieve the production of functional prototypes that will consider your needs and integrate your collaborations.
By summer 2014, we want to build up to ten functional prototypes that will work independently and communicate to a mobile interface. We need your help to finance the production of these prototypes, and most of all, we invite you to take part in our adventure by getting one of them and testing it with your own plant. This way, we'll be able to know more about the growing conditions of different kinds of plants in a wider range of environments, and push the development of Biobot further and further.
We think everybody should be able to take care of a living being, and by using widely available components each one of us could build a tool to follow the life of a little or large plant using open hardware. That's why we have been putting all of our efforts to make our plant live and bloom with our system, and we want to share its development with you.
You'll be able to get the schemas needed to build one basic unit, using parts that can be found online or at a nearby shop. After building them, we'd love to hear from you as you hack, tweak and tinker our concept. This way, we'll make this dream grow bigger and bigger.
This honorable mission motivated one of our friends... but not any friend: the philosophical engineer Maximilien Daman is our man for the development of the final circuit boards and thermal exchange researches that will make our greenhouse work at its best.
For now, it has been a month since we started working on the intensity, spectrums, voltage and controlling of the LED lights... and we're thrilled with each little improvement, as it represents one more step towards seeing Biobot take form!
With all this work in progress, we want you to imagine and develop this project with us. Next steps are installing the captors, controlling the whole system and making it feed live data: this way our plants will finally be given voice, and we'll be able to listen as they tell us exactly what they need.
This crowdfunding campaign is also YOURS, as we want you to live this adventure and overcome each one of its challenges with us. The more of you are by our side, the more we'll be able to exceed and push our project further. The Biobot that will come to life by the end of these thirty days will be the one that some of you will be able to get!
We'll get straight to the point on the use of your collaborations:
• 750€ to build at least two new functional prototypes to our dearest plants
• 600€ to offer plenty of awesome treats to reward our backers in this quest
• 160€ to recompense our #1 supporter, KissKissBankBank
• 200€ to make all our love-filled gifts get to your house safe and sound
• 290€ just in case we need... because yes, Murphy's always nearby :)
Now all you have to do is to get in touch, share your ideas, spread the word, follow our findings, coach our development and JOIN US!
"WE MUST CULTIVATE OUR GARDEN" – Voltaire
This project was developped in a collaborative studio directed by Thomas Lommée at ENSCI–Les Ateliers, with the indispensable support of Christine Terrisse, Uroš Petrevski and Florent Deloison
or get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org :)