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Encouraging plants in the workspace

This product has been created as part of a team of three designers at IBM. Click the button to read more about my 12 month internship experience at the company.

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Plants are great, but unfortunately in the corporate world, they are expensive. The initial purchase and the continuous maintenance of plants results in them being scarcely found in offices.

PlantBuddy is a project aimed at leveraging the powers of IoT and community engagement towards introducing more plants in the workspace.

A device in each plant

Helping us to understand the health of the plant

IoT Devices not only informs us of the health of the plant, but also the quality of the environment.

It is known that many corporations employ service providers to take care of plants. But this is constly and there are only so many plants they can take care of. So wouldn't it be nice if everyone working in the office got inormed and has the opportunity to take care of the plants themselves?

Why plants and sensors?

Solution through community

Benefits of plants in the workspace

Plants in the workspace are proven to be fantastic. At a high level, it creates a better working environment through mitigating stress, anxiety, fatigue, hostility and depression. It naturally cleans the air from harmful gasses reducing sick rates and is said to improve productivity rates of employees.

A connected site

Plantbuddy revolves around a community of shared plants and data. Connecting your plant with an IoT device on the platform not only encourages a community of carers but also gathers vast amounts of campus site data accessible to any employee willing to make innovative use of it. It also holds the added benefit of removing the plant maintenance burden from facility management whilst also giving them a clearer picture of the sites status.

Sensor capabilities

Many of the plant sensors on the market can detect more than if the plant just needs water. This extra sensor data such as temperature, humidity, light and maybe even CO2 could be harnessed to give a more accurate readout of the spaces across the site.

Environmental data

As more plants join the system the data gets more meaningful and the community more vibrant.

The problem

So meet Alex, he's volunteered to help improve up his team's space. He's gotten some budget to buy a few plants to liven things up a bit.

Everyone in the team begins to take immediate ownership of them and he's happy to see that it's not just his responsibility to care for them.

The plants have an immediate impact on moral but after a few months they start to die.

Alex ponders this as he heads to a meeting in D Block and notices they have also invested in some communal plants that are doing great! He then also notices some sensors in the pots,

Alex speaks to Sarah and discovers PlantBuddy! She says that its a great community where everybody helps out with taking care of the plants. Especially when she's not at work as she knows they will be taken care of. If a plant is too dry or not having enough light there is always a carer nearby listening to those slack messages on the carer slack channel!

The System

Alex want to get his plants registered on PlantBuddy. He registers this sensor on the Watson IoT platform. He's unsure about what plant he has, so he chooses to use Watson image recognition to gain insights on the type of plant he has. Watson then generates custom rules for Alex's plant automatically setting thresholds based on its findings.

With a successful registration, PlantBuddy then uses App Connect's event triggered flows to send out slack messages to the plant buddy community whenever the plant needs water, or has already been watered. The cycle then continues. The data gathered from these sensors are then accessible through an API key whereby anyone in IBM (Such as CBRE) is able to make use of it!

Existing Components

All the components for PlantBuddy are readily available, they are generally low cost and easily accessible. Our aim in the future is to custom build these sensors so they would right out of the box.

Design Thinking Workshop

Running a 2-Day Design thinking workshop looking at how we could extend the PlantBuddy project in domains such as agriculture, community alotment farming and water management.

Next project

Development of an MVP

With the project now getting popular recognition accross IBM, we aim to make our MVP available as an initial beta release to employees from the Hursley site. Based on feedback and iterations, we then hope to make a cheaper, more resilient design and interface which should hopefully see full public adoption soon!

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