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The project realized by Stefania Merella and Giovanni Paolo Masia, thanks to the funding of Sardegna Ricerche within the scope of the call: “FIT: Faber-In-Team – 2018”, is called FLYING ROOTS is a vertical wall garden, which harmoniously combines the plants chosen according to the characteristics given by the climate and the environment, creating a simple micro ecosystem and innovative design, which gives the floral composition an artistic connotation like that of a painting.

FLYING ROOTS FEATURES

The characteristic of FLYING ROOTS is to create works of art, thanks to the use of nature and its colors, to make the environments unique and at the same time combat indoor pollution, because plants have the ability to improve air quality, reducing atmospheric particulate matter, dreaded fine dust, also cancel out formaldehyde and other substances harmful to health and regulate humidity indoors, improving the thermal insulation of the wall, resulting in energy savings in terms of heating and air conditioning, also improving the soundproofing of the wall. The plants grow on a flat vertical surface in extractable pots where inside each one there is the earth and a vegetable sponge, all is isolated by a thick felt. In addition, the irrigation system with removable water tank is programmed with arduino and allows you to water independently, creating a system that through the hygrometric sensor, monitors the hydration in the sponge placed under the jars, which in case of low humidity is irrigated by the system and uniformly provides the right amount of water to the plants. The benefit of the project has positive effects on the mood, thanks to the frames that allow you to create multicolored floral arrangements.

DESIGN

The FLYING ROOTS project starts from the design and design principles concerning bio-architecture, the foundation of the philosophy of vertical gardens, which through digital fabrication techniques create a functional and environmentally friendly product that can be applied to all domestic environments in a simple and low-maintenance way. The design is the result of a parametric study of the surface made up of hexagons that become extractable jars, where the plants are inserted. The parametric surface allows you to create large-format surfaces that can be customized and develop vertical gardens that can be adapted to any type of wall. The study of the parametric in combination with the frame in milled cherry wood, creates an innovative product design that like a work of art creates an emotion to the viewer.

ELECTRONICS

The electronics of the FLYING ROOTS frame, studied with arduino, allows to create an automated and intelligent system, which monitors the humidity level of the plant system and moisturizes the plants only when needed. The frame is designed to be opened like a drawer so that the water tank can be easily filled, when the system requires it via LED and acoustic signal. The electric-hydraulic system allows to water with electric pump through the monitoring of the vegetable sponge placed under the plants, creating a system that allows to monitor the humidity in the sponge that in case of low humidity, is rehydrated by the system that provides uniformly the right amount of water to the plants.

ABINSULA: INTEGRATION OF AGRUMINO AND LIFELY IN THE PROJECT FLYING ROOTS

At the incubator CUBACT of the University of Sassari in the Fab Lab Uniss, Flying Roots technologies were implemented, here was born the meeting with Abinsula that proved useful to improve the aspects of functionality of the circuit, but also to optimize the internal architecture for the housing of the sensors and the mechanics of operation of the system. Thanks to the innovation of the agrumino board produced by Abinsula, it has been possible to lighten the electronics initially studied with arduino, using the integrated board that inside has a battery, which can go into a state of hibernation greatly extending its life, thanks to which you can power the circuit without additional power support. The board incorporates humidity, temperature and brightness sensors, which allow remote monitoring through the web platform lifely, able to create a profile to each culture or plant associated with agrumino, with remote control of data through the use of devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops. In the panorama of the internent of things in agriculture, lifely, compared to other technological products has the advantage of having an intelligent system, easy to use consisting of an electronic board that integrates sensors for monitoring plants, miniaturizing the electronic architecture, communicating data in real time within the platform, where you can have a custom dashboard with the data sent by the board. The potential of combining lifely-agrumino technology with the Flying Roots project has given rise to numerous educational workshops on IoT technologies integrated with agriculture, through the collaboration with FabLab Sulcis. Thanks to the Flying Roots frames and lifely cards, technological laboratories have been created for lessons in 3D graphics, electronics and internet of things for agriculture, where the students have also created their own product of technological design.

GOAL ACHIEVED

During the development phases of the Flying Roots project, the objective of creating working prototypes was reached, respecting all the technological and design characteristics set, being able to show and promote the product to a wide public, as it was selected in the “Call for Makers” competition, winning the exhibition space in the Maker Faire Roma The European Edition innovation salon on 12 – 13 – 14 October 2018, in the Design/Life salon, where visitors and companies were very interested and enthusiastic about the project. The success of the project at the Maker Faire in Rome and the interest of the public showed how the design of the automated system, the 3D design and the study of the parameters for the inclusion of the floral composition within the frame, has allowed to create a customizable product that has the ambition to bring people closer to nature thanks to its particular design, which allows the extraction of the pots from the grid, thus creating a floral composition always different and new. Another objective achieved thanks to the Flying Roots project was to be able to carry out educational workshops with schools, through the themes of design, nature and technology, in collaboration with FabLab Sulcis and in particular with the participation in the event “Da Vinci Cinquecento” San Sperate 18/05/2019 organized by the Accademia Terra. During the event “Da Vinci Cinquecento” took place the seminar that showed aspects related to design solutions IoT (Internet of Things) in which the project was presented Flying Roots and activities regarding Lifely Agrumino with FabLab Sulcis.

Flying Roots is a project in continuous evolution that has allowed to create a vertical garden fully automated and customizable as it can adapt to any environment.