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Using Cloud and IOT to Grow the Perfect Garden
Ken Miyachi
NOV 02, 2016 13:25 PM
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By Ken Miyachi

 

This blog and accompanying podcast on Itunes is part of a series IEEE Cloud Computing is doing on entrepreneurs and how they use Cloud Computing technologies.  Our first guest blog is with Taiga Ecosystems and their product the Taiga Tower (www.taigatower.com).  Ken Miyachi is the CTO of Taiga Ecosystems, a startup that has a product for automating home gardens.

 

The Taiga Tower revolutionizes home gardening that instantly brings the user to the top of the supply chain of produce. The Taiga Tower system provides a comprehensive experience by integrating our intelligent tower garden device with the Taiga Tower mobile app and software services. The system is completely scalable and each user can have a customized size garden that is perfect for their needs and constraints. The water basin that provides moisture to all the plants in your Taiga Tower system only needs to be refilled once a week.

The Taiga Tower allows anyone to have a personalized full garden by utilizing different growing profiles for different types of produce. Our system optimizes the moisture and light being received by each plant pot based on the type of produce being grown. Our unique system of classic growing techniques along with advanced sensor technology allows quality grown produce year round. Machine learning software in our system is constantly improving and updating your plants preferences to make sure your plant will thrive and be ready to harvest. Our LED lighting system can be adjusted by both intensity and color to maximize growth of each individual plant.

The tower will have a motor and a sensor that can detect light.  Depending on the optimum light your plants need, the unit will rotate towards light as needed.  There will even be an option to light the tower with growing lamps.  In addition, there will be a water delivery system.  When the sensor determines low water level, it will deliver water.  All of this data will be stored in the cloud under a customer’s account.  The data will be used to display information about the garden to the user in a mobile app.  Users will also be asked to give information about how their garden is doing to further the intelligent data the growing system has to work with. 

The software stack for the Taiga Tower system includes React and AngluarJS on the client side and MongoDB and Node.js on the server side. For our computation and machine learning algorithms we are using Python. Amazon Web Services is where we will initial store and organize all of our data.

One of our biggest concerns is related to security, since our user data will be stored in the cloud.  We plan to use a large commercial cloud provider as it gives a startup like us an affordable option.  We are studying any security vulnerabilities these commercial providers may have. We have been asking and offering incentive to our friends majoring in computer science to try to hack into our database to see if it is possible.  But we also have concerns about our sensors and their control.  We came up with the following misuse case (a use case that has gone bad):  suppose an evil person got control of the light sensor and turned the plant so far to the light that a fire started.  What safeguards could we put in place to prevent that?  Of course we want to prevent first anyone from controlling / reading the system in the first place that this is our first line of defense.  But we may have to check, in this case, the temperature and shutdown down the system if it gets too high, in addition to adding water.  In addition, we are looking to encrypt our data as it is sent over Bluetooth and over the network so only our team has access to it. 

Like many products, we have to balance our features and safety with the cost of production.  We have to make the product affordable.  We will have some electronics on the system that can read the sensors, process the data, send water and move turn the tower if needed, and send all this data to the cloud.  A mobile app will have all this data available to it.

We have built a mechanical prototype and have tested it with a group of friends and families.  We currently have an Indiegogo campaign (www.taigatower.com brings you to that campaign) and we are three quarters to our goal. All of our funding so far has been from ourselves.  We plan to have our first units out in 2017.

Our product will be attractive to an expert gardener that will have data to analyze at their fingertips all the way to someone who has never gardened before who will be able to have a bountiful garden. 

For entrepreneurs like us, college students, the cloud enables us to get started without buying expensive servers and hiring experts to help us manage them.  We wouldn’t be able to get started without the cloud, which is a game changer for us.

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