Common-or-garden IoT

Jan van Boesschoten about vegetables of the future

VodafoneZiggo is a leader in the field of Internet of Things (IoT). We participate in all sorts of fantastic projects, resulting in smart dykes, hospitals and farms. Great industrial solutions for sure, but what are the options in this area for consumers? Together with students of the Digital Society School, we go looking for common-or-garden applications of IoT.

It can hardly be called a coincidence, but the first IoT application we stumble across in a brainstorm, is a perfect combination of common ánd garden. The idea is based on a trend in Dutch households to grow your own vegetables and herbs. Just look at the success of the Albert Heijn moestuintje (vegetable garden) campaign – everyone had them. But also on a more serious scale, a lot is being grown indoors nowadays. Can we respond to that with our IoT technology? Five students from the Digital Society School of the Amsterdam university of applied sciences have from February to July to develop this idea and come up with draft proposals and a business case.

The problem of success
It soon becomes clear that in "home growing" herbs and vegetables one is faced with two basic problems. First, cultivating plants is an art in itself. To fully develop a tomato plant, you have to know and do the right things. Can we make this easier for consumers? And if you do succeed in growing such a plant, you encounter the second problem. Before you know it, you have loads of tomatoes! What do you do with them? The students, two designers, two developers and a business analyst, set to work. They come up with a promising IoT solution.

Getting hold of the right end of the stick
The IoT element of their plan is embedded in a stick. A so-called sensor stick that you put into the soil next to your plant. Sensors in the device measure light, humidity, temperature and PH levels. In this way the state of your crop is monitored. The stick then communicates this data by means of a special lamp. Using colour signals, it shows you how your plant is doing. Also, on an app you can see exactly how your micro farm is flourishing. The app also functions as a platform where you can exchange your knowledge and your crops with other home farmers.

Super idea or supermarket
The idea is promising and already well under way. But does it really have a chance of success? After the design phase, the students will now work on the implementation. To draw up an airtight business case, they look at the hardware, software and the necessary communication models. An important criterion is a keen price of this sensor set. After all, if it is too high, the consumer will rather go back to the supermarket.

Jan van Boesschoten
The digital domain never rests, not even for a second. Jan van Boesschoten keeps VodafoneZiggo on its toes when it comes to digital. He does so in lots of innovative projects ánd with the new generation thinkers, users and employees. Exactly, students.