Gård

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IxD × Productdesign

summer 2022

Intro

This study found positive associations between perceived greenness and mental health both in the home and study-environment. This indicates that more attention should be paid to developing green university campuses, in addition to green living areas.

— BMC Public Health (2020)

Numerous studies have shown that the presence of greenness and visits to green space can reduce stress and improve restoration of the brain, and thereby improve mental health. Unfortunately, green space at home is becoming a privilege only few people can afford – especially in urban areas. Traditional gardening takes up a lot of resources, as space, water, soil and so on.

Over the course of the past few years a technique called “hydroponics” has become increasingly popular. For now tho, mainly in an industrial context as those system can be extremely complex and time consuming – but very productive.

Currently there are a lot of smaller and bigger companies, selling those systems for sometimes horrific prices. So you either need to afford a lot of space, or you need to be able to afford one of those systems – either way, you need to be able to afford it.

Gård is an open source approach to those systems, giving people the chance to build one of those systems for themselves on a budget without having to compromise on features, such as an digital companion, or nice looks.

Website

While hydroponic systems are a huge opportunity, they can also be quite overwhelming. To break this complex theory down and provide details about the building process we developed a website with all needed information.

The site can be found on mygard.info

Webapp + Datavisualization

Hydroponic systems are very hard to monitor without sensors and data. This is why we decided to provide a custom interface to access this information. This information currently includes the current water level, the pH score and nutrition value of the solution. We are going to keep on developing the system in order to refine our datas structure and add new sensors to the system.

We wanted our users to be able to get the current status of their Gård at any given time, so we ditched our idea of running the system on a local level and went for an mqtt server (shiftr.io). This way we do rely on an internet connection, but in return don't need to be on the same wifi network.

Data Visualization

Being able to recognize the current status at a glance is an important part of our tool. The sensor data is rendered live in form of a pixel cloud morphing in realtime to match the data.

Arduino + WiFi Management

As every other IoT Device our Gård needs a first setup – granting access to your wifi, entering your water tank depth and assigning a name to your Gård.

On boot the system checks if you previously entered any wifi credentials and if it’s able to use these to establish a connection to your network. If this fails, an access point is created to which the user can connect and enter their details under gard-setup.local.

Once all the information has been passed to the system and written to the file system the user gets redirected to a success page containing their personal tool-url.

Once all the information has been passed to the system and written to the file system the user gets redirected to a success page containing their personal tool-url.

Hardware

Currently we are working with one ESP32 board as the main core. Connected to it is one analogue TDS sensor, one analogue pH sensor and one digital ultrasonic sensor. The setup is really easy and doesn’t even necessarily require soldering as you could easily just plug everything together with jumper cables.

Product Design + Modularity

Structure + Material

We came up with a modular system that can reach every height the user needs. Combined with our chosen material polypropylene this structure gives a unique, contemporary aesthetic.
We chose PP because of its building characteristics:

  • Easy to produce with either a cnc mill, or a little patience and a sharp knife
  • Water repellant
  • Recyclable but still affordable
  • The Translucent optic is very aesthetic

CAD & CNC

The materials thickness we recommend is 1.2mm, which makes it quite hard to cut by hand, especially as the modular systems requires some flaps to connect the single peaces.
So we choose to produce the single sheets with a cnc mill, which every future Gård owner can do also by sending materials and data to a Makerspace.

Thanks Marco for the nice project – it was a lot of fun and exciting as always! 💯