Jeremy Fu


I love houseplants but its hard to speak their language. Under water them, over water them and it can lead to an unhealthy plant. A plant’s history of breakage and growth is shown on its skin. Through this product we can foster new growth and revitalize the plant. 

This project was an exercise in working with limited materials and limited time during COVID-19 with the entire build taking place in my apartment over the course of 3 days.

  • Prototyping
  • Interaction Design 
  • Mechatronics
  • Individual Project

Prototype of the Plantlife

During EDI Bootcamp I was given the theme of Kintsugi to design for in a short half-week project with found objects and a basic electronics kit. I wanted to tie my love of plants with Kintsugi, the art of repairing broken pottery. 

My inspiration for this project came from the many many plant mishaps that I’ve had. Both those which were my fault and those which were not. 

An under-watered plant

MacGyvered plant humidity chamber

My key goal for this prototype:

  1. How might I create a product that allows us to create better watering habits for our plants, create a meaningful interaction with that plant, and gives an indication of plant health? 

User Requirements
  • The design gives the user a glanceable indication of plant health
  • The device uses data to calculate plant health
  • The design serves as a container to hold the plant
  • The design encourages greater empathy and connection with our plants
  • IMU feeds motion data for shake-to-wake behavior
  • Capacitive soil moisture sensor gives analog value calibrated to air & water
  • Teensy 4.1 intakes data
  • Neopixel LEDs display state of plant
  • Capacitive soil moisture sensor is inserted into the plant substrate

The gif above shows the capacitive moisture sensor reacting to being in 100% moisture (water) and 0% moisture (air). 

The gif to the right shows the shake to wake behavior enabled by the IMU.

Soil Moisture Modes

Optimal Soil Moisture is dependent on the type of substrate. For soil it is 10-45% based on the saturation point and wilting point.

Happy Plant

Soil Moisture 20-45%

Green, smiling face

Meh Plant

Soil Moisture 10-20%

Orange, ok face

Grumpy Plant

Soil Moisture 0-10%

Red, unhappy face


Learned to think more intentionally about human-product interactions, from characterizing the plant with human emotions such as happy, ok and grumpy, to allowing modes to be expressed both with color and faces to ensure the message was universal.

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