While it won't actually enable you to time-travel, by combining all of the hardware necessary to grow plants indoors, including the lighting and ventilation, with an array of sensors and intelligent controls, this plug and play hydroponic growing system just might make growing some of your own food fun, easy and accessible.
Hydroponic systems offer a lot of advantages over traditional soil-based gardening, including lower water use, more granular control over nutrients, and the possibility of quicker yields and larger harvests. It's not for everybody, but in certain situations, such as indoor and small space gardening, hydroponics can be an effective method of producing fresh food all year long.
It's certainly possible to build your own DIY home hydroponic system, and there is no shortage of options for purchasing either a complete system or the components to craft your own, but many of the hydroponic systems currently available can be expensive to buy or complicated to learn to operate. To address both of those issues, a new automated hydroponics growing system aims to be an affordable alternative, and promises that "anyone, even with no gardening knowledge whatsoever, can grow like an experienced farmer."
The Niwa system was developed by an engineer who realized that our current food system, which depends on transporting fresh produce across long distances, made no sense to him, and made it his mission to try to change that. And because he's an engineer, and has a belief that technology can be used in the service of sustainability, he focused on using technology to make the growing process simpler, so that everyone can have the option to grow some of their own food, wherever they are.
"Imagine taking complex greenhouse technology and putting it right in your living room. Niwa is a fully automated hydroponic system that uses sensors and actuators to simulate real environmental conditions. To start growing, just tell our app what kind of plant you’ve selected. A program specific to that plant will load, initiating a lighting and irrigation sequence and the right conditions for the type of plant and its stage of growth. As it grows, the app will ask for feedback, for example, can you see any leaves? The software will then adjust its settings based on this feedback to provide an even better environment for your plant to thrive." - Niwa
Along with being automated and responsive, the design of the Niwa is stylish enough to be a functional part of a modern apartment or home, without detracting from the look and feel of the place. In fact, having a hydroponic system in your living space might be a great conversation starter for foodies and gardeners, and perhaps serve to educate others about food and alternative growing methods. The units aren't big enough to grow a huge amount of vegetables and herbs, although they could be a great option for growing plants in apartments and small homes to supply at least some of your own food.
To launch the Niwa system, the team behind it has turned to crowdfunding with a Kickstarter campaign, which will fund the production of the devices. If you'd like to know more, or to sign up to pre-order and be a beta tester, see the Niwa website.