This is the portable microscope I used to take photos in the class. It’s powerful and very easy to use. When I zoomed in on my iPhone, the magnification can be greater than 45 ×.
The following are the pictures I took. These are all microgreen seeds, which are the experiment materials I am using for my final project. From the lens of the microscope, I can easily see the texture of the surface of the seeds.
Final Project Experiment
Sterile Plastic Petri Dishes (with transfer pipette)
Vates Collard Seeds
We aim to see how the salinity and osmosis pressure would affect the germination and the growth of the plant.In this experiment, the microgreen will be watered by saline solution and sugar solution with different concentrations from low to high. On the other hand, the control group will be watered by distilled water. Each dish has ten vates collard seeds and correspondent solution and pipette, and the same amount of solution input every day. The salinity tolerance varies hugely from different kind of plants. I end up using 1.5%(mass fraction) as the highest concentration standard and decreasing the concentration from 1.5% to 1.0% and then to 0.5%.
Throughout these weeks, we’ve been iterating, reframing, and consolidating our final project idea. Fortunately, we had a phone call with Rob, the CEO of Farm One. We had a lot of feedback regarding our idea and Rob helped us direct to the right way. Originally, we intended to use the flavor to map to user’s emotion, and also use user’s emotion as an input to influence the flavor of the plants. However, according to Rob, it’s very hard to create significant flavor difference in a short period of time. Besides, emotions are subjective and fleeting. Based on these uncertainties, we decide to tweak our idea. In conclusion, we are going to use microgreens as a foundation for our project.
According to the research, microgreens are healthy food sources which can diversify our food system and provide a wide variety of minerals to our body. Besides, we also want to take the advantage of the colorful appearance of different kinds of microgreens. By combing the two features of microgreens, we rephrase our project statement:
“Use healthy food to create pixelation art”
We would like to use this as a gasification process to arise people’s awareness of healthy food.
We won’t be able to develop the whole user flow before the end of this semester. In the final presentation, we will use microgreens as the material to create three different kinds of pixelation art. Afterward, we will harvest them and mix different microgreens in the correspondent art piece, and taste the flavor of different “art pieces”. Even though the preference is subjective, we still want to know which combination is the tastiest one.
The Speculation of the User Flow
In the future, this could be a service which provides users to create their own microgreens pixelation art, grow them, harvest them, and eat them. So we will also design a digital interface which allows users to use the colors from the microgreens we have to make their pixelation art on screen. Afterward, they will receive their art piece and they have to take care of them until harvesting all the microgreens.
I am fascinated with the idea of utilizing cheap and easily accessible materials to create something fairly powerful tools or products. The articles of this week remind me of a project, which also uses local materials and biomimicry to mitigate the problem of water resources and hygiene in Africa.
“Warka Tower is a vertical structure designed to collect and harvest potable water from the air, providing an alternative water source for rural populations that face challenges accessing drinkable water. The canopy creates a shaded social space where the community can gather for education and public meetings.”
Beyond the functionality, the architect also researches the local social and cultural context and interpret into his architecture design. Warka tree is a tree with large and thick canopy, which allows people to gather and rest. Warka Tower not only provides people clean and easily accessible water resource but also emulate the social function of Warka tree. This truly inspires me and reminds me of the importance of considering the social context and the emotional connections of the users.
Last week, we did an interesting and helpful idea mapping exercise which facilitated narrowing down my thoughts. In a nutshell, Alan and I want to gamify the process of planting, cooking, and dining in order to rebuild the connections between nature and ourselves.
Why do we want to gamify?
To quote BJ Fogg’s Behavior Model, it shows that that three elements must converge at the same moment for a behavior to occur: Motivation, Ability, and Trigger. When a behavior does not occur, at least one of those three elements is missing. In the context of my project, people’s hectic life stop us from connecting to the food we eat and make us have less time to enjoy our meal. In other words, the busy life makes these things “hard to do”. However, I believe we, as human beings, still have the motivations to understand how the food came from. As a result, we have to simplify and gamify the process. For example, we can create something to become an anxiety reliever other than Netflix.
Besides, gamification is the easiest way to convey the message. In one of Jamie Oliver’s videos, he showed the producing procedure of chicken nuggets to allow the kids to understand how does one of their favorite food come from. Although this is not a gamification, I think this visualization also exemplify the importance of transforming invisible facts into digestible and sensible feelings.
I want to create something that can bring the joy of dining and cook back to our life. I have a workaholic lifestyle friend who is currently working as software developers. He never cooks by himself and he sometimes even doesn’t have enough time to enjoy his meal. Soylent, a beverage which contains protein, carbohydrates, lipids, and micronutrients that our body need for a whole day, has become one of the best solutions for him instead of keeping skipping meals and eating microwave food. I agree that’s a better option than fast food since Soylent doesn’t just provide you calories. Instead, it gives every nutrition you need.
However, in my view, I think having soylent as the primary food source of our daily life is a palliative way to squeeze more time in our overloading life. In the long term, I don’t think it’s beneficial for us. It’s a panacea which can make you alive and only cost you a few minutes, but it also makes you lose the chances of enjoying meals once you’re relying on it. Eating food is one of the best things in our life. It’s pathetic to consider food as nutrition only instead of a beautiful experience.
Hence, what I aim to do is I want to create a fun experience to mitigate this phenomenon. I want to bring the happiness of eating and cooking back to our life. There are existing services like Blue Apron which provides package contains ingredients and also include suggested step-by-step recipes. I want to create something more than that. Allowing people to plant their ingredient is what I am thinking of.
In a nutshell, in the industrialized farming era, I want to let people enjoy the process of growing the ingredients they need, cook them, and then eat them.
Before I came to ITP, I studied Agriculture in Taiwan. However, I didn’t like the conventional educating way that my college gave to me. Hence, I started to learn visual design in my junior year. After I graduated, I worked as a UX/UI designer in a tech start-up. This class not only allow me to re-visit the field I used to learn. Moreover, the experimental ways to bio-design are the things that make me really excited.
We don’t thoroughly understand the food we eat. Where did the food come from and what kind of nutrition can the food provide? We can quickly achieve our daily calories need, but we are not familiar with the ingredient of it. Agrochemical companies utilized biotechnology to develop crops that will not produce viable offspring, which aims to monopolize the seed market. What’s worse, they systemized the commercial structure among crops, pesticide, and herbicide. These approaches all target to make the profit, specifically, maximize the crop yields. However, this led to the The Great Nutrition Collapse of the food we eat.
Besides the food and nutrition issues, I am also interested in urban farming, vertical farms and any other unconventional farming method which aims to mitigate the environmental problems we have. All in all, I look forward to using creative approaches to tackle the severe issues.