For an Internet of Things project, our team created a kickstarter video for a product using biological network technology. We designed Alates, a system of robotic ants that help corn farmers control pests safely and efficiently, trigger irrigation system when needed, and monitor crop growth.

Date
March, 2018
3 Weeks
Team
Cesar Neri
Chongrui Zhao
My Role
Research on biological networks and feasibility of implementation; Participated in shooting and gathering resources for the video.
Domain
Internet of Things
Biological network

THE CHALLENGE

The possibilities for IoT are endless, but many are still untapped, especially those related to biological networks.  This project challenged us to imagine the future using biological networks and design a product that could be feasible within the next 10 years.

DESIGNING FOR AGRICULTURE

KICKSTARTER VIDEO

THE PROCESS

IDEATION

We initially came up with 10 wild ideas. Our classmates were excited about the one using swarm ants, so we brainstormed on how ants could make an impact on people’s lives and drew 3 storyboards. We eventually decided to move to a crop care system that would have a larger, feasible impact for everyday usage.

Sample Scenarios 

STORYBOARDS

VIDEO SHOOTING

Before shooting the video, we first designed video storyboards to tell a story. We believe having a farmer talk about the pest issue she had and how Alates helped the farmer solve the problem would be compelling for a kickstarter video. We also included an expert interview to make our product more convincing.
Mapping out the farmer story
Since it’s hard to interview a real farmer in the corn belt, we managed to  find a CMU student whose family owns a corn farm where she works every summer.
We invited a computational biological expert to explain the technology and the product itself.

IN RETROSPECT

Alates bridge the physical and digital worlds together and give us an excellent opportunity to design for the future. We spent a lot of time making sure the idea is feasible in the near future and could bring real impact to the farmers. Given more time, we would consider how Alates are connected to the cloud and how data is gathered and shared.