Prototype V: Backend Development - Client Side

Prototypes of the front end system were made using Javascript three.js libraries to simulate the Rotegrity Sphere of the Urban Fod Pod. Further code was written to prepare to receive the data from the Spirulina bottles. 

I put together a data-set of “simulated data” in order to begin to write the code to read-in this data from the Arduino. The data set is made using JSON formatted data. Now that my server-side code is pulling from a JSON file, once the sensors/hardware are fully functional, it should be a very simple exercise of sending the data from Arduino to the MongoLab hosted database and then sending it to the client-side (web-site). 

Internet of Plants: Plant Communication

This article is very inspirational in thinking about actually harnessing the power of plant communication. I think further research could be done in this area and may prove to be a fertile ground for truly understanding distributed networks and cooperative systems. Understanding how plants communicate may solve many of the problems we humans will face in the age of the anthropocene. This may be the key to solving our food and energy issues.  

Prototype III: Further System Development

Research Questions:

Plant System:

  1. How feasible is it to raise Spirulina for food in an urban environment?
  2. How much Spirulina (as food) will the Urban Farm Pod System produce on a daily basis?
  3. What is the optimum environment to produce fresh Spirulina in an urban farm setting? 
  4. How efficient is Spirulina in terms of providing nutrients into the human diet?
  5. What types of food product can we make with our Urban Farm Pod System Spirulina?
  6. What can a networked living system (i.e. internet of plants or smart systems) tell us about growing gardens and food?

Network System:

  1. How can the pod behave more like a living system, i.e. a cooperative, system that shares resources and communicates? Can networking/data monitoring assist in this process?
  2. How can monitoring-at-a-distance (iOS or web) benefit users of this system?
  3. What can we gain from having sensors/data monitoring? What do we do with this data?


Image from Jimmy Tang

Image from Jimmy Tang

Image from Jimmy Tang

Image from Jimmy Tang

Growing Spirulina in the New Lab

Terreform One: Plug-In Ecology

I am currently doing a Research Fellowship at Terreform One working on their project Plug In Ecology:

I am working with Jimmy Tang ( to construct a networked plant system on the surface of the Urban Farm Pod. I will be concentrating on the software and collaborating with Jimmy on the hardware implementation. 

Urban Farm Pod:

" The Plug-In Ecology; Urban Farm Pod is a “living” room for individuals and urban nuclear families to grow and provide for their daily vegetable needs. It is an interface with the city, potentially touching upon urban farming, air quality levels, agronomy techniques in test tubes, algal energy production, and bioluminescent light sources, to name a few possibilities. It can be outfitted with a number of optional systems to adapt to different locations, lighting conditions, and
habitation requirements. While agricultural food sources are usually invisible in cities such as New York, the pod archetype turns the food system itself into a visible artifact, a bio-informatic message system, and a functional space. The Plug-In Ecology sphere prototype uses a robotic milled rotegrity ball for the under-grid structure made of reclaimed flat packed materials. A fully operablesub irrigation system and a shaped foam panels serve as sleeves for the potting elements and agronomy tissue culture for micropropagation. A digital monitoring platform relays information about specific plant health to the web. Our vision for future iterations of the pod is to naturally grow structures over time, within a new form of mediated arboreal culture, to integrate the biological and mechanical elements
more closely, to transform the object into one that grows and changes symbiotically. The Plug-In Ecology project sets out a direction for healthy biological exchanges with urban inhabitants, and to contribution to the life of urban ecosystems that mediate between autonomy and community." -- Terreform One

Image Credit: Terreform One

Image Credit: Terreform One

Image Credit: Terreform One

Image Credit: Terreform One

Concept Development:

omputational Ideas

  • computational plant modeling / simulation
  • computational design for networked systems
  • algorithmic to digital fabrication
  • plant communication: networked and cooperative systems / signal exchange

Urban farming ideas

  • hydroponic farm
  • networked sprinkler system
  • solar monitoring
  • sensors: humidity, light, air quality, temperature, 

environmental ideas

  • soil remediation 
  • bio remediation
  • rhizo remediation

System overview: