Get to know the Woodhack Project “Green Wall-E”

written by Ingo Steincke

Ingo will now present his team’s Woodhack 2019 project. With “Green Wall-e“, they proved that plants and technology can work together harmoniously, and won the prize for the best project.

 

In 2019, at the seventh Woodhack, our annual hackathon in the countryside, we got together to once again realize project ideas away from our daily work routine. I find Woodhack projects particularly exciting because you can leave your screen and go and work on concrete, “real” objects.

 

PROJECT IDEA “GREEN WALL”

One of this year’s project ideas was to create a “Green Wall”, a cluster of automatically irrigated wall elements, which are not only a beautiful decoration but also provide a pleasant indoor climate in the office.

The idea for the project came from my Berlin colleague, Tilman, who convinced my colleague, Eva, and me to join his project team. Our aim was to get some inspiration from the rural surroundings of the Woodhack and to further develop the original project idea.

So, we started with a night hike through the forest. We collected wood and other types of material and finally decided on an interactive upcycling project that would be just the right size to fit on the top of a desk.

 

AFTER THE MATERIAL COLLECTION THEN THE CONSTRUCTION

Once the collected materials had been assembled into a construction, we put our minds together on how to add extra functions to an office plant. A more charming idea, we decided, was rather than implementing the electronic moisture measurement for automatic watering, we should instead get people to water the plant themselves and receive feedback as a symbol of thanks. 

This was a way we felt, to experience an office plant in its natural element more mindfully, and as a new “office colleague”, it would also actively encourage people to take a short break, to the benefit of their health and well-being. 

Of course, we now had to give our little digital plant a cute name so we could capture our colleagues’ hearts at the final presentation. On the second Woodhack day, Eva dedicated herself to finding a name. With ideas like “Plantagotchi”, we finally came up with the idea of extending the original title “Green Wall” in memory of the little robot from a movie by adding a single letter, to “Green Wall-e”. 

My colleague, Tilman, was already experienced in Arduino hardware and had brought along some devices with him. We wired the Arduino Elegoo Uno board with the DEBO CAP SENS humidity sensor and the small Neopixel LED Strip light strip, which we could program relatively easily using the Adafruit Neopixel library.

 

BEST WOODHACK 2019 PROJECT

Finally, at the project presentation at the end of the Woodhack, we were able to show an object whose exterior was dominated by wood and green plants. Only the light strip and a few cables revealed that our “Green Wall-e” contained any electronic components at all.

When switched on and off, Green Wall-e welcomes and says goodbye with light effects and, apart from this, indicates with green or red light whether the plant still has enough water or needs watering. When watered, the installation expresses its gratitude with a rainbow-like light animation.

Despite numerous other fantastic projects, in the end, our “Green Wall-e” was voted the best project at the seventh Avenga Hackathon. And so, our creative installation and project idea paid off!

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