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Herbot Design Analysis annotated 58 points.pdf

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Herbot Design Analysis annotated 58 points.pdf

  1. 1. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/720376666/herbot-automatic-home-gardening-system-you Herbot: Automatic Indoor Gardening Robot 1 Name “Herbot” makes reference to herbs (planetnatural.com/herb-gardening-guru/types) then refers to gardening and see later claims about food in general. It’s commonplace to see exaggerated claims, mixing scales, and making grandiose visions from only one small device. 3 Is this a “robot”? The URL uses “system” but the project became a robot. Also “automatic” is an interesting addition: aren’t robots automatic? What really is automatic or robotic about this hydroponics watering system? Why is the term “hydroponic” hidden? 2 “Indoor” indicates the focus on urban living spaces that are increasingly small especially in high-density cities. This product appeals to a “return to Nature” with references to healthier and more pure living, a key paradox 4 Peculiar design decision: a glass enclosure that isolates most sensorial qualities of gardening and frames the presence of Nature in an otherwise artificial setting, alludes to similar tensions in Sci-Fi: 5 A peculiarly poorly done psd edition of these graphics 6 Clear clues that indirectly point to a type of users: frame sitting on the floor, books used as bookcase. Also, is that an empty pot on the wooden block?
  2. 2. 8 Ironic line here. Turns out many clues are often explicitly stated and “hiding in plain sight” –used in cynical, humorous ways. Yes, this does look like an expensive (and over-designed) way to grow plants, arguably one of the most natural things in the world 7 Question: is the name “Her-bot” referring to a feminine task? The logo is an H in a leaf shape, mediocre design. The dark video presents a machine with polished metal finishing, round corners, and (of course) LEDs 12 What is the Google Assistant for? Is left unspecified, sounds like something else it must have: feature creep. 13 LEDs seem to display only Google Assistant functions, unclear but unlikely to communicate any plant status, watering, etc. 10 A (very tacitly put) “razor and blades business model” where users are “locked in” into buying proprietary consumables. 9 The imagery is very telling: decorations of “high tech” that are superfluous, false, and frankly, cheap. 11 “Bro language” and Apple-like font type. Telling of values and aesthetics of the designers and possibly their target users
  3. 3. 21 So, this devices uses electricity to supply light, circulate air, and dispense nutrients. It also produces new waste: empty nutrient cartridges. 14 So, remember #2? Tight indoor spaces (city apartments)? This looks like a big suburban house. There. Are. Plants. Outside. Big. Ones. 15 Size! A monstrous device using very valuable kitchen real state. 16 Availability. Why must the herbs spend most of their time (growing) being at hand in the cooking area? Seems like the main function of this is to display the plants, hence it’s a “conversation piece”  17 This version looks like a prototype hacked poorly, see the glass jars used as “nutrient dosing system” and the plant sticks out of the enclosure 18 What are the children supposed to be doing? There are claims of “learning” (science fair type?), another sign of feature creep 19 Size (again), now placed in the dining area: device obstructs visual contact and interaction between these actors. 22 Scale: started with herbs, moved to garden, now to food. Implying that all or a good portion of “your own food” is grown at home. But it’s just herbs! 20 Cables supplying electricity are never shown
  4. 4. 23 We meet the team. All male, all young, all cool. The clothing, the angles, the settings, the ethnic diversity, all conform to the message of tech entrepreneurs, the mythical figure of “disruptors”. The language by Talha Sabri is worth analysing 24 Are young people meant to have this box as a centrepiece? 25 All bros have not one but two titles! 26 Talha mentions the “Global Innovation Exchange” as the origin. Keller says he is an alumni, but the website does not mention them or this project at all: https://www.globalinnovationexchange.org Tried to contact Keller by email.
  5. 5. 27 Device grows herbs, but ok. 28 This “centralized” argument is pervasive in selling futures of personal technologies as liberators from top-down control. Claims of access, democratisation, giving people control (yet, you will buy their nutrient cartridges). The field of tech entrepreneurship is full of contradictions and arguments with holes 29 “More”, “faster”, and “less” than… what precisely? Agricultural systems have very different impacts depending on location, scale, practices. You will see this type of empty claims in many cases 30 At times, numbers and percentages are thrown in, but go deeper and you will often find no sources, no specific details, only ambiguous lines 32 Another box checked: some reference or far-in-the-future (and geographically remote) vision of doing good. A social saviour complex permeates many emergent technology applications. As usual, argument here is incoherent and ambiguous. 31 So, Herbot uses less water… therefore show picture of a desert, and disregard the fact that machine now uses electricity and access to the Internet, and will need repairs. To grow herbs.
  6. 6. 33 Not one, but five (5) different nutrition cartridges are required 34 Of course, there is an app. Machine needs an app to work. 35 Detailed information: how necessary and meaningful? Do people need this feedback and (false) sense of control to grow plants? 36 Always expect the “i” word, and the “s” word (smart)
  7. 7. 37 Lots to analyse here: - What does the term “AI” really refer to here? A bunch of sensors with if-then rules to adjust light, air, nutrients, water. Yet, see the words used: think, brain, know. - They consulted gardening experts to create a machine for you, the “less experienced” gardener. This gives a good indication of how they see their target user. - Machine connect to the cloud, to access a database… for what? Wasn’t it AI-intelligent? - Language of precise control, guaranteeing you, knows exactly, and sophisticated. - System is smart, so users don’t need to be: a breeze, at your fingertips. - Just add water, seeds, and… nutrient solution (in the cartridges that they will sell you, but nothing in the campaign or video specifies anything in relation to the nutrient cartridges)
  8. 8. 38 - “Makes gardening more accessible” (at a higher cost) “and more engaging” (putting the plant in a glass enclosure and interacting with your phone rather than with the plant) - “Plant growing algorithms or build your own recipe to experiment” - HerbotOS (the name) “is the portal to the Herbot community” points to the social dimension of gardening - Marketplace: this is the closest they come to referring to the e-commerce side of Herbot: where the machine will (likely) ask you for purchases periodically
  9. 9. 39 Herbot: “a social gardening robot” that… “plays a song or any other functionality of Google home”. Yes: Play. A. Song. 44 Teleport yourself (choice of words) 41 We learn here that the water in the device is heated and enriched with oxygen (a pump). Hence, the energy consumption of this device is higher than expected 42 A “personal sun” and UVA, Why, what for? What are the use scenarios where this would be necessary? Where sunlight is scarce, but this goes against all the photographs of the locales where the device is shown. In all those images there is natural light. Numbers: see #30 above How does it purify air? 40 From herbs to fruits… 43 Assurance of “being entirely safe”
  10. 10. 46 The ubiquitous use of “happy” in emerging technologies. A promise of “happy plants” and “we” (they) “keep you happy” 48 It is a hydroponic system, but this word is only used here. 47 How do hydroponic systems use nutrients? A DIY guide: https://www.wikihow.com/Mix-Hydroponics-Nutrients 45 Claims of “energy efficiency”, yet… why add energy in the first place? 49 “A preferred level of acidity”See step 5 in the wikihow guide. This customised recipe of nutrients is likely to be used to justify the business model of using five cartridges.
  11. 11. 50 The three models offered. Each in a few different colours (not shown). We learn here that the devices come with a HD Camera and Bluetooth speakers. Because why not. The Mini is good for 12 herbs and comes with sensors but no nutrient cartridges. So, it’s an enclosed display for plants. The Grande “takes Pro to the next level” and it “can grow almost anything”. The graphic design of the LED displays looks improvised, and the brand language in these three products is inconsistent and looks unprofessional.
  12. 12. 51 The choice of questions in the FAQ is worth a separate analysis altogether, as they point to the voices that the designers hear or imagine 52 The device is growing food, so what are the regulations that such a device will have to meet? 53 The Global Innovation Exchange is cited here in very ambiguous terms. However, the Herbot as a “hipster appliance” doesn’t align with the goals of the organisation: “a global development technology platform for innovations, funding, and insights. GIE's mission is to help scale the most promising innovations by utilizing its ever-growing database of information to serve as a reliable fundraising resource for global development innovations, as well as a source of credible innovation data for the international development community.”
  13. 13. Harness the power of Artificial Intelligence to grow any plants, anywhere you want. Just pop in a pod, and let Herbot grow it for you! Preorder Now Created by farm 4.0 150 backers pledged $43,620 to help bring this project to life. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/720376666/h erbot-automatic-home-gardening-system-you “I am currently in talks with investors to raise money early next month to fund the manufacturing of Herbot, since most of the Kickstarter money has gone towards development and certifications. My team will stay committed to developing Herbot and fulfill every single order. I am also trying to fundraise for Herbot through consulting contracts and am hoping to raise enough money to either manufacture or refund every order by July 2019. We want to assure every single backer that if we are unable to deliver, we will return every single $ raised on Kickstarter. The refund process may take some time since we have contracts with industrial designers and manufacturers.” –Talha Sabri, CEO Herbot: Automatic Indoor Gardening Robot Harness the power of Artificial Intelligence to grow any plants, anywhere you want. farm 4.0 1 Campaign | Seattle, United States $71,071 NZD by 165 backers $64,532 NZD by 150 backers on May 5, 2018 with another platform https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/herbot-automatic- indoor-gardening-robot#/
  14. 14. https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/herbot-automatic-indoor-gardening-robot#/updates/all by farm 4.0 Oct 9, 2018 • 12:04AM 10 months ago Product Development and App Design Dear Backers, We wanted to reach out with some amazing updates on what the team has been working on for the last 6 weeks. We were finally issued the pledge money from Kickstarter two weeks ago and our product development work is back on track. We are finalizing the redesign for Herbot Mini, which is being made to comply with FCC and CE certifications and we are hopeful we can begin production by early January. Herbot Pro and Herbot Grande designs are currently being evaluated for nutrient scheduling and CO2 dosing and we expect to get the production sample for them by early January. Our software team has also been working hard to finalize designs for the Herbot IOS and Android App. We will be sharing a remote user- test for our App in the next 3-4 weeks so stay tuned for that. Due to financial and design challenges faced by the team in the last two months, we have not been able to communicate well with the community. We sincerely apologize for that and hope to stay more present on the platform in the future. Building Herbot to be of the highest quality and effectiveness is of utmost importance to us, and we’ve been working diligently to ensure everything we’re doing will deliver the best experience. Although we know this delay is difficult for you we believe that it's in the best interest of you and our final product. Thank you again for your support and patience. Best, Talha Sabri CEO, farm 4.0 54 Talha Sabri’s LinkedIn profile lists his role in the Farm 4.0 company ended in June 2019. Many people on Kickstarter are furious because there is very scant communication and it’s likely that the whole Herbot pitch was a scam, or at least a very irresponsible project. It is still useful for our analysis, and it leads me to analyse other “Automatic indoor gardening” machines… are there a few or many more out there? 55 The company’s logo of a leaf with USB roots is also worth a mention, for the symbolism
  15. 15. https://thegadgetflow.com/?s=smart+garden 56 Ok, so a simple search shows that there are many such systems out there. It does seem like technology people want to solve gardening…

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