Markus Mettenleiter

Vega - A smart cultivation approach

Speculative Design

Studies have shown that conventional agriculture will not be sufficient to feed all people in the long term. One solution for the future of agriculture is the concept of vertical farming. We asked ourselves how growing plants in hydrocultures can work at home for people in urban areas. Vega enables middle-aged people living in large cities with little previous knowledge of plant cultivation to plant their own crops. It is inspired by the Open Agriculture Initiative of the MIT in Boston.

Assembly of the first prototype.

Electronic setup.

First sprouts.

Second Prototype

Working with our first prototype helped us getting knowledge about planting seeds and the handling of plants in a hydroculture. First drafts of an interface were made and first features which allow the user to cooperate with the machine created. The second prototype should be a lot smaller than the first one since it should be usable in small areas. Working closely with gardening experts as well as the target group and their wishes, we created the new vega prototype. A display attached to the prototype tells the user about the progress of the plants inside and assists him with planting new seeds and other upcoming tasks.

Vega Prototype 2.0

A look inside.

Planting made easy

A dynamic background shows the conditions inside the system. During the day, weather conditions such as heat and wind as well as warnings are communicated through the colour of the background. Upon interacting with the box, the growth status of the plants inside is visualized.

Different stages of plant growth.


The dashboard is the centrepiece of the system. It contains every information about the amount and sorts of plants within the box. The next steps the user has to take and a diary of what has already been done and when. Though the machine can do many things on its own, our research has shown that manual interaction is still an important part for the user.

Dashboard with the necessary information for the user.

The climate view lets the user simulate climate conditions. Those not only influence the growth but also the taste of the crop.

Vegapedia provides useful tutorials and information about plants.

With the time machine the growth of the plants can be tracked and made understandable.


Anna Erlewein, Christian Bette


Prof. Hans Krämer
Ann-Katrin Spörl


6th Semester
Winter Term 2017/2018
HfG Schwäbisch Gmünd