Both friendships and flowers flourish with Air Garden


Gardening + Arduino = Garduino?


City dwellers immersed in the daily hustle and bustle seem all too often tend to overlook interacting with neighbors. Drawing on urban gardening practices and the space limitations of community housing, a team of Makers from the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design recently created Air Garden as an innovative way to form bonds among nearby tenants.

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“We seek to introduce a space efficient environment, a give and take system that nurtures people to emotionally connect to their living spaces. Air Garden aims to foster indirect communication between tenants with the hope of creating a platform for connections and chance encounters,” Maker Amalia Goutaki writes.

How the system works is pretty simple. The edible plants move vertically along a column outside an apartment complex’s windows. Participating inhabitants can summon the plants to their window, pick from them, and assume responsibility for watering.

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In order to bring this idea to life, the team created a pulley system based on a pair of Arduino boards: an Uno (ATmega328) for the pulley and a Yún (ATmega32U4) for the interactive portion of the plant. Buttons were placed on the side of its wooden structure, corresponding to each floor of the building. This enables a tenant to call upon the plant. The Arduino Uno is responsible for deciphering the plant’s distance from the ground and translates that information into either “tenant1,” “tenant2” or “tenant3,” depending on from where it is summoned.

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The plant is equipped with two screws in its soil, which are connected by wires to the ATmega32U4 based Yún. According to its creators, values such as “watered,” “needs water” or “overwatered,” are then relayed to recipients. Once water is poured, the soil becomes more conductive, causing the values and messages to change accordingly. Both the apartment dweller’s floor and water condition are displayed on the pot’s easy-to-read LCD screen.

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Interested in learning more? Head over to the project’s official page here. In the meantime, you can watch the Air Garden system in action below!

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