In MAKE Volume 18, we published Luke Iseman’s Garduino project. I was always fond of the project because I wanted to find ways to monitor water and light in a greenhouse. In truth, the project was a bit crude. Now Luke, who I met through Maker Faire Austin and has since moved from Austin, TX to San Francisco, has a Kickstarter project to develop an upgrade to Garduino called Growerbot. Growerbot is “way more user friendly,” says Luke.

Photo of Growerbot by Luke Iseman

Growerbot is described on Kickstarter as a “social gardening assistant.” Its new features include:

  • a built-in-display, enclosure, and everything else you’d expect from an actual product
  • better sensors: collecting data on specific parts of the light spectrum, accurate humidity, etc.
  • wifi streaming of plant data.

Luke’s eventual goal for Growerbot, he says, is “to gamify gardening.” “Growerbot will help you grow food in the real world while entertaining your virtual friends with updates from your garden,” he writes on his Kickstarter page. He’s got two backers at $880 for whom he promises to supply “Growerbot Pro.” With 39 backers so far, he’s already exceeded his $5,000 goal with 4 days left.

I’m not sure gardening needs gamification. What I’d like is affordable technology for monitoring and control of gardens and small scale farms that also connects them to the Internet.

DALE DOUGHERTY is the leading advocate of the Maker Movement. He founded Make: Magazine 2005, which first used the term “makers” to describe people who enjoyed “hands-on” work and play. He started Maker Faire in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2006, and this event has spread to nearly 200 locations in 40 countries, with over 1.5M attendees annually. He is President of Make:Community, which produces Make: and Maker Faire.

In 2011 Dougherty was honored at the White House as a “Champion of Change” through an initiative that honors Americans who are “doing extraordinary things in their communities to out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world.” At the 2014 White House Maker Faire he was introduced by President Obama as an American innovator making significant contributions to the fields of education and business. He believes that the Maker Movement has the potential to transform the educational experience of students and introduce them to the practice of innovation through play and tinkering.

Dougherty is the author of “Free to Make: How the Maker Movement Is Changing our Jobs, Schools and Minds” with Adriane Conrad. He is co-author of "Maker City: A Practical Guide for Reinventing American Cities" with Peter Hirshberg and Marcia Kadanoff.

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