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The smart garden: Samuel Wilkinson's Biome Terrarium
Marrying innovative technology with the more subtle and 'slow' pleasures of gardening, the designer behind the world's first low-energy designer light bulb unveils a smartphone-controlled terrarium.
Greenthumbed purists, avert your eyes for this one …
Now that homeowners have the ability to remotely control pretty much any plugged-in element of their abodes — lighting, heating/cooling, appliances, etc. — via a tablet or smartphone, I suppose it only makes sense that indoor plant-tending has also gone the way of the app.
From Samuel Wilkinson — the London-based designer behind my favorite green design of this past year and something that you’ll find in my own home, the Plumen 001 light bulb — comes the Biome Terrarium, a self-contained, iPad or smartphone-controlled tabeletop ecosystem that’s nutrient, temperature, lighting, and water levels can all be monitored and tweaked via an app.
Unveiled at the Slow Tech exhibition at this year's London Design Festival, Wilkinson calls his prototype creation a “living Tamagotchi,” adding: “The idea promotes 'digital downtime' by finding an alternative use for smartphones and encouraging their owners to consider a slower life. The control and nurturing of a real mini eco-system takes patience and care, contrasting with the immediacy of messaging or tweeting that is so characteristic of the smartphone generation.”
Wilkinson’s Biome, equipped with low-energy LEDs that replicate sunlight, is also outfitted with sensors that provide users with real-time information about what exactly is going on inside the terrarium so that climate conditions can be tweaked via an app as need be. Wilkinson tells Co.Design that he’s not trying to completely do away with old-fashioned, “manual” plant-tending but has created something that “could either act as an introduction to non-green-fingered people who love gadgets, or just be a small garden for plants that need a very sensitive environment.”
Although I love the “digital downtime” concept, I’m not sure if this concept is for me … I have a hard enough time keeping plants alive as is without involving apps and handheld devices. What do you think? Is this something you'd be interested in if the product ever gets further developed? And are you on the lookout for a non-prototype, non-app-controlled terrarium? Check out these beauties.