The testing of Greenopia’s alpha version went live in mid-November’15, with backers and volunteer-users* in Bangalore. Phase 1 was over by 10th December and we’re running Phase 2 currently.
What’s in the alpha version?
The alpha version comprises:
- The Greenopia Self watering pot, with customised potting mix and seeds
- A 3-d printed version of the sensor stick that goes inside the soil
- The mobile app with basic features: recommendations + checking remotely the moisture/light status of your plant
What are we testing?
- Is the self-watering pot + custom soil mix supporting plant growth?
- Is the sensor-stick connecting to wifi and sending data seamlessly in different contexts?
- Are moisture and light sensor readings reliable and valid?
- Is the growth of the real plant approximating the software heuristics?
- Are the alpha features of app functioning properly?
- Does the battery last long enough with one charge?
- Is the set-up process understandable by the user?
- Is the content and frequency of recommendations appropriate?
- Are the UI elements that show the status of the plant intelligible?
- How hard is it for the user to troubleshoot?
Here’s a quick summary of what’s going well, and where we’ve hit some snags:
- Plants are growing! The self watering pot and the potting mix are working very well together. Our testers have grown and harvested many leafy greens so far.
- Light sensors are working fairly reliably and giving valid data.
- For the test plants, the software heuristics are approximating plant growth
- The basic Recommendations and Plant Status features are working fine in the app.
- The battery lasts anywhere between 30-45 days per charge in ideal conditions. We have identified cases where it drains faster. We’re fixing those by refining the logic in the firmware about when it should go to sleep-mode.
Still needs some work
- There are cases in which the sensor stick fails to connect to wifi – out-of-range being the commonest of all. We’re working on modifying product design to enhance range.
- Troubleshooting in these cases right now is difficult for the user because the switch to reset the device is sealed inside its casing to protect it from moisture. Giving external access to the switch, while still retaining water-proofing standards, will drastically push cost of manufacturing outside of the crowdfunding budget. We’re reimagining the troubleshooting process by playing with the combinations of hardware inputs and firmware logic, for the device to understand that it needs to be reset, without having to open it.
- The set up process is currently complex for users to understand. We’re streamlining it in the app so that it feels seamless.
- We have identified refinements needed in some UI elements to make them more intuitive. These changes will be incorporated in the beta build.
- The accuracy of the moisture sensor can be improved further.
Once these are sorted, we will add the next set of features to the app and test it as well.
*Shout out to Alicia, Vidhya, Rajavel, Pallav, Anant, Edward, Shishir, Arundhati, Aditi, Venkatesh, Gopal