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Cultivating Sustainability – Sensors and Tangible Interaction for Urban Farmin

PhD project Through design research the project aims to make urban farming easier and more enjoyable by employing interactive technologies.

The PhD project is focused on urban farming from an interaction design perspective. Through design research the project aims to make urban farming easier and more enjoyable based on an understanding of the role of interactive technologies in general and sensing technologies in particular within the domain of cultivation. A central perspective is that sensing technologies have promising relevance within cultivation, as they may increase both productivity and the experience of interacting with plants.

Project overview

Project period

2017-09-01 2020-03-01

Research subject

Informatics

Project description

Sensors and measurement tools are decreasing in price, entering consumer markets and becoming abundant. Accordingly, the usage of sensors in everyday context is likely to increase in the near future. Within urban areas this development is often referred to as 'smart cities'. This notion of 'smart cities' further relates to the research fields of Ubiquitous Computing and Tangible Interaction, where the projects main research contribu-tions are made.

Through designing and conducting studies of sensing technologies in cultivation contexts, the project aims to highlight application areas for emerging technologies and unpack user experiences of these. Further, the prototypes developed within the project will be examined and evaluated with a focus on novel interaction modalities (e.g. breathing interaction) and as such contribute to the corpus of knowledge in HCI concerning novel modalities of interaction.

As a second point of departure, the project examines urban farming as a social movement that has direct positive effects on the urban environment and spreads ideas about sustainable foodculture. Based on initial design ethnography, the project highlights two broader tendencies in ideas concerning sustainable cultivation of food: sustainability through efficiency and sustainability through consciousness. In sustainability through efficiency automation and data are central concepts embodied in notions such as 'food tech', 'precision farming', 'genetic engineering' and 'Artificial Intelligence'. In sustainability through consciousness central ideas include mental wellbeing and presence, affinity and self-sufficiency (decreased consumption). The project aims to unpack and develop the role of sensors and tangible interaction in both of these approaches. A central perspective is that sensing technologies have promising relevance within cultivation, as they may increase both productivity and the experience of interacting with plants.

Head of project

Anton Poikolainen Rosén