Product: 3D Gardener
A 3D printer that prints seeds, seedlings, and saplings as well as soil and nutrients. It will have probes and senors to detect the state of your garden, monitor it, make repairs and improvements. It will be able to take in dead plant material, weeds, garbage, and unwanted insects and transform them (by composting) into the raw materials it needs for printing. It will be powered by the sun.
The primary users of this product are people who want to garden successfully and in a sustainable way, but do not have the time, knowledge, or ability to do so. Secondary users are those who will enjoy the benefits of an improved or new garden/ yard, like family members and/or neighbors.
1. A user would first sync 3D Gardener with their smart phone and then let it loose in their yard. GS would first determine the boundaries of the area it should work in and check with the user for confirmation. Then it would assess the yard with its probes for soil quality, air quality, insect population, areas of sun and shade, temperature, and damaged areas. It would report its findings to the user and make suggestions for improvement and maintenance. From this stage, the user could optimize their growing area and then give 3D Gardener specific tasks such as “print 3 rows of 3 sunflowers” or “print a small tree in this corner of the yard.”
2. Users will be able to choose to print seedlings or saplings at different stages of growth. This feature would be useful in situations where a certain type of plant (like lettuce) grows better when planted as a seedling, rather than a seed, or for times when the user can’t plant seeds at the optimal planting time for their location. Also, users will not have to wait as long to enjoy the beauty and shade of trees that often take much longer to grow than smaller plants like grasses, flowers, and vegetables.
3. Large 3D Gardeners could be used for city-wide beautification and maintenance, as well as variety of larger scale farming tasks. They could also be used to address the challenge of empty lots in urban areas by improving the soil quality, or preparing the area to be developed in a new way.
This product will be used outdoors in personal gardens and yards. It must be able to withstand heat and cold, be waterproof, and be durable enough to spend most of its time outside without becoming damaged.
The motivation for the creation of this product is increasing interest in similar products that use technology to help people garden more successfully. For example, the Smart Herb Garden on Kickstarter uses sensors to make sure that your herbs have enough water, nutrients, and light. The creators of Smart Herb Garden asked for 75,000 dollars and received nearly $400,000 from almost 7,000 backers. Another motivating factor is that gardening is often done by people who are skilled at gardening, are passionate about it (so they make time for it), and are generally physically able to do it. Otherwise it is outsourced to professionals, which can be expensive, or it is not done at all.