Jing Yu

Ponyu – Migratory Plants

With the rise of the internet of things, there comes the implication of networked consequences in the physical objects we manufacture.  How can we repurpose those consequences to change the homes of tomorrow so that a home can be shaped by the behaviour of its inhabitants?

Ponyu, is a project developed by Surojit Dey, Raunaq Patel and Jing Yu during the Trainable User Interfaces course at CIID under the guidance of Massimo Banzi and Simone Rabaudengo.

Habit driven evolution of the smart home landscape

Fuck Magic. Magic creates a strong power dynamic in understanding where the ‘magician’ is the only person who has clarity. Magic is magical when it works, but when it fails in a product the experience is frustrating and obscure.

>> The Brief

The trainable home – What is a home that is made of trainable interfaces and 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.


>> We shape our environments

It is human nature to shape and reshaped the environment around us. We chose to use plants as a manifest trainable homes. We ingrained a flock of everyday houseplants with basic autonomy, a small amount of intelligence and the ability to talk to each other. The changes in the environment would be a result of plant movement in response to human nurture or neglect.


Federated Learning

Learning shared across multiple devices so that the objects can train each other on the space. One plant cannot know it all, but through simple proximity and random walking, the flock of plants can teach each other the most ideal locations in a space.

Decentralized Intelligence

Mass machine learning from Google, Facebook require that your behavior is taken away from you and pushed to some cloud. The small device machine learning dream is to apply your data to machine learning locally. Ponyu relies on a smart network that shapes the environment as a result of fairly rudimentary and decentralized intelligence. 

Emergent Behavior

The outcome of Ponyu is a result of emergent behavior. No two houses will have the shifting same landscape – Ponyu is an incomplete product until placed in the context next to people.

>> The Brain

To achieve this every plant has two drives, the primary drive is thirst and the second is hunger (sun). Each plant in the network will monitor the soil moisture of each neighboring pot in the flock, thirsty plants will move randomly around a space until in proximity of a moisturized plant. The emergent result is the spaces you remember to take care of will slowly flourish with the immigration of plants – those forgotten places will grow barren through the exodus of plants. A green space is symbolic of a healthy, plants are this kind of perfect metaphor for where you as a human spends the most time or thought with in ones home. 


>> The Guts


>> The Body