AR Glasses Plant Care App
LaForge Optical/ Daqri AR Glasses
The Ideation Process
The Ask: Create a novel interface.
We were given the freedom to be as creative and innovative as possible (be out-of-the-box!) so we encouraged each other to come up with anything – regardless of how funny, crazy, or impossible the idea seemed - feasibility was not a constraint.
What We Came Up With: An augmented reality application for glasses that pairs with plant sensors and a mobile app via bluetooth to ease plant care responsibility. It takes out the guesswork involved with assessing plant needs and allows users to feel empowered when making real time care decisions.
How It Can Help: The original idea was rooted in water conservation and efficiency methods but we were excited to expand upon this idea to incorporate other equally important aspects of plant care, such as:
- soil pH
- weeds, disease, pests
- and so forth...
Ideally, we wanted our interface to allow people to deepen their emotional relationship with plants and develop a personal connection with nature to improve overall care in a way that is easy, quick, informative, and fun to use.
Here's a step-by-step guide on how to use our plant cARe application:
The Research Process
Go to your users - We sent out a quick survey to determine if people would actually be open to using technology to improve their relationship and care for plants.
Ask some experts - Who we interviewed:
- Agricultural farmer
- Home gardeners
- Landscape designer
Look it up - We looked at several websites that gave how-to guidance, or expert, research-backed advice:
- How To Geek Garden with Arduinos
- Efficient use of water in home gardening
- Farmers interested in augmented reality
- Automatic plant and water sensing
- Data visualization examples
- Display data the un-boring way
Rate the competition - What products out there already exist to meet our user needs?
- Edyn - a currently available plant water sensing device
- Jebiga - digital plant pot that displays an emoji to show plant health
- GreenIQ - a smart, cloud-connected water gardening irrigation system
Meeting User Needs
Based on our survey results, we determined that we would narrow the scope of our project to personal use that could later be scaled to larger applications in full gardens and farming with AR devices like Daqri Helmet. Our team agreed that the problems people encounter the most are:
- assessing plant needs
- understanding how to resolve those needs, and
- maintaining consistent care routines across different periods of time
The implications of our proposed idea are wide-ranging and could help anyone, from a beginner novice to an experienced professional. We could all use a little help raising a mini indoor cactus, maintaining a home rose garden, raising vegetables or herbs in a greenhouse, or even running a full-scale agricultural farm or orchard.
Data Visualization - We were intrigued by the power of data as a way to empower potential users with informative and efficient visualizations that could improve anyone’s ability to monitor plant care across time in the past, present, and future. This inspired us to select augmented reality (AR) as an ideal interface to benefit users by applying this potential in real time. Harnessing the power of data in the moment allows users to prevent poor care from happening, react to care issues if they do arise, and track history and progress. The results are better overall plant health care that saves time and resources. Helping people be more successful with plant care would encourage user adherence and could foster a more widespread appreciation of gardening and nature.
The Design Process
Design Challenges, Constraints, and Considerations
Black Thumbs - Most of our team members are not experienced with the challenges of sustaining plant life for extended periods of time. Understanding the many environmental factors involved to properly assess, care, and track plant health was key to making this project successful. To overcome this, each team member took care of a houseplant for the duration of this project.
Play with AR/VR - Also, only 2 of the 5 team members have personally experienced or interacted with existing AR and VR devices firsthand. My teammate and I have both played with the Microsoft Hololens, HTC Vive, and Daqri Helmet via live demos and video gaming. To overcome this, we took the time to teach the other teammates about our personal experiences with AR devices and how it differs from VR and 2D mobile and web screens.
Let Me See - The design of the interface was more difficult than anticipated because we had to consider whether or not to allow the limitations of current technology constrain our design. Current technology is constrained when displaying information as an overlay over existing real world environments at various distances which can obstruct user field of view (FOV) and be potentially hazardous. Peripheral vision and FOV are limited horizontally and vertically by head and eye rotations. If the user is outdoors in a bright environment, we would want them to ideally be able to maintain high visibility of the user interface screens without experiencing eye strain or muscle fatigue. We also wanted to ensure that the user could appropriately control access to all of the various types of data available to them without feeling overwhelmed with information that clutters their limited FOV.
AR Experience - We realized there are huge differences between AR and other technological interfaces like VR and touchscreen devices. Augmented reality is much more immersive and interacts with real physical environments that you cannot touch or feel. Video gaming research was immensely informative for our menu and data display design choices.
Teamwork and Virtual Collaboration - Also, learning how to work collaboratively with team members remotely in various roles was a valuable takeaway. We learned how to improve our communication styles with different individual personalities, encourage participation, foster inclusivity, and execute ideas within short timeframes. We had to learn to prepare and be flexible in case of unplanned deviations. Short sprints helped us make sure we were all being accountable for our deliverables. If any team members needed help, we made sure to reach out and offer support to ensure that our team would reach our goals together. It was important that if anyone was consciously incompetent at any one task, that we would teach and help them learn how to become consciously competent in order for our project to make progress. I count myself lucky to have such a cohesive, talented team dedicated to the success of our project.
Research, research, research - Lastly, we learned that innovating new ideas still requires heavy and extensive research. Instead of allowing existing practices to be a constraint, it allows us to understand what has already been done so we can understand the possibilities of where we can go next.
If you'd like the nitty, gritty details of our entire research and design process, take a look at our Google Slides presentation.