Jing Yu
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PONYU

 

PONYU

a trainable autonomous plant vase designed for the smart homes of tomorrow. The emergent behavior of ponyu plants shape the organic landscape of the home in response to human habits.

 
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What is a home that is made of trainable devices? A home that is undone, where things evolve and change, trained and retrained to adapt through time. Where devices constantly learn from you, from other people or from each other.
— Simone Rebaudengo
 

CONTEXT

>> Our habits shape our environments

It is human nature to shape and reshape the environment to accommodate our desires. With the pervasiveness of the internet of things, there comes the implication of networked consequences in the physical objects we manufacture.  How can we use those consequence so that the home of tomorrow can be shaped by the behavior of its inhabitants? 

 
Photography credit to: Aliza Eliazarov

Photography credit to: Aliza Eliazarov

 

We chose plants as an intuitive, playful metaphor to manifest the evolution of a space through IOT. By ingraining a flock of everyday houseplants with basic autonomy, a small amount of intelligence and the ability to talk to each other - we created a trainable device that altered the organic landscape of a home in response to human nurture or neglect. 

 
 
 

PONYU CONCEPT

>> Core philosophies

 
 
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Evolving

 Following the words of Simone Rebaudengo, we strove to design the ‘undone’ product. No two houses will have the shifting same landscape – Ponyu is an incomplete product until placed in the context of a home with humans.

implicit training

Our commitment to designing products with interactions that are implicit to the original object itself. No external screens, no imposed buttons needed to train Ponyu, only what you were going to do anyway.

FEDERATED LEARNING

Our machine learning dream is to apply data to machine learning locally. Ponyu shapes the environment as a result of decentralized intelligence.  One plant cannot know it all, but through simple proximity sensors and random walking, the flock of plants can teach each other the most ideal locations in a space.

Transparent

The outcome of Ponyu is a result of emergent behavior. However, the rules that dictate that behavior and learning are simple and influencing Ponyu’s behavior is implicit within the affordance of the object itself.

 
 
 

>> The Brain

In the code of each Ponyu Arduino there are two core drives, the primary drive is thirst and the second is hunger (sun). Those drives are manifestations of four simple rules:

  1. thirsty plants will move randomly around a space

  2. Hydrated plants will drift (move slowly)

  3. Thirsty plants drift when in the proximity of hydrated plants

  4. Hydrated plants stop near a light source

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As a result, the spaces you remember to take care of will slowly flourish with the immigration of plants – those forgotten places will become barren through an exodus. The greenery being the symbol the health of a space – plants become a metaphor for human nurture, where one spends the most time or thought within the home.

 
 
 

>> The Guts

 
 
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>> The Body

 
 
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PROCESS

>> Prototyping and Iterations

 
 
Very first prototype of Ponyu

Very first prototype of Ponyu

Testing of the final versions

Testing of the final versions

 
 
Checking random walk function

Checking random walk function

 
 
 

>> DO ANDROID PLANTS DREAM OF ARTIFICIAL SUNLIGHT?

Using processing to make simulations instead of physical products has been a saving grace. We can have our cake and eat it too when it comes to demo-ing systems level, emergent behavior with out needing to build the requisite number of prototypes.

 
 
#1 THIRSTY PLANTS WANDER

#1 THIRSTY PLANTS WANDER

#2 HYDRATED PLANTS FLOAT (WANDER SLOWLY)

#2 HYDRATED PLANTS FLOAT (WANDER SLOWLY)

#3 THIRSTY PLANTS SLOW NEAR HYDRATED PLANTS

#3 THIRSTY PLANTS SLOW NEAR HYDRATED PLANTS

#4 HYDRATED PLANTS STOP NEAR LIGHT

#4 HYDRATED PLANTS STOP NEAR LIGHT

 
 

This is a video of an interactive simulation of multiple plants in a space.


Each white dot represents a plant in the space that needs water and sunlight.
The white dots can be pressed to be watered, subsequently turning blue.
Blue dots near light turn green as a plant that has had both drives satisfied.

 

 

PONYU WAS DESIGNED AND BUILT IN COLLABORATION WITH RAUNAQ PATEL AND SUROJIT DEY UNDER THE guidance OF Simone Rebaudengo AND MASSIMO BANZI.