BeagleBone Black project spotlight:
By Tara Stratton
Open-source technology is all about getting the power of technology into the hands of everyone. That’s why we at BeagleBoard.org really like the idea of GrowCubes —stackable, modular farming environments that use mobile technology and aeroponics to grow delicious, organic produce indoors—using 90% less water. Developed by a team at NYC Resistor (NYCR), GrowCubes democratize agriculture by placing the power to grow back into the hands of individuals and communities. “It’s based on the radical idea that food should be healthy, tasty and accessible to all,” said Chris Beauvois, founder of GrowCubes. This idea of open-source agriculture has implications not only for culinary culture, but for some of the urgent public health issues facing us today.
According to Chris, developing GrowCubes was very challenging. “Aeroponics is a delicate process, and we spent more than a year developing our misting hardware alone.” In addition to these aeroponic spray misters, the system also includes a network of sensors and data from the Internet to give the system intel about what each plant needs. With this information, GrowCubes automatically rotate shelves, ensuring plants get the best possible light.
GrowCubes are powered by BeagleBone Black. Chris and his team at NYCR chose BeagleBone Black for its high performance, large GPIO pin count and the added real-time performance of the programmable real-time unit (PRU) within TI’s Sitara AM335x processor. “BeagleBone Black is the most complete solution of any kind and is especially suited to handling the complexities of our product,” said Chris.
Now that the NYCR team has its project complete, it plans to build a large run of GrowCubes to distribute to public schools in New York City.
GrowCubes is currently a contender in Engadget’s Insert Coin: New Challengers competition, where readers can vote for the most promising crowd-funding hardware. Online voting starts at 5 p.m. EST on Saturday, Nov. 9 and ends at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 10. If you are inspired by what GrowCubes can do for agriculture in our cities (or anywhere else for that matter), consider voting for them here.
Want even more information about GrowCubes? The best place to start at the moment is this YouTube video. You can also check out Chris Beauvois’ interview with Mike Riggs at The Atlantic Cities blog. And lastly, tune into MSNBC at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 10. Chris will be a featured guest!