by Andrew Dunne
Automation and computer-aided designs are seeding the future of home gardens. With the onset of designer gardens as a service and rose-pruning robots, weekends spent toiling in the garden will be more productive and personalised.
Gardening is proven to be healthful and joyful, but as more of us discover the joys of working in the garden for the first time, some basic knowledge about plants, landscaping and soil is required to get started. What, where and when should you plant, for instance?
These were some of the core questions co-founder of the start-up Draw Me A Garden (DMAG), Florent De Salaberry, realised were standing in the way of more people digging in to the subject.
‘Many people want to garden, but lots of us just don’t have the expertise or confidence to begin,’ said the French tech entrepreneur.
DMAG is an app and website service which offers tailored 3D-plans for garden design. It helps budding gardeners to transform any plot into a beautiful, sustainable garden with ease.
The inspiration behind the company’s name comes from the children’s book ‘Le Petit Prince’ in which the prince requests the narrator to ‘draw me a sheep’ to start a conversation and build a relationship.
De Salaberry says “Draw Me A Garden” uses digital tools in a similar way to help people build a relationship with nature in their gardens.
The DMAG service helps customers envisage their dream garden by providing creative ideas, planting tips and, most important of all, delivering all the plants to their door.
Giving customers ownership of their creations is what distinguishes DMAG from traditional landscaping, argues De Salaberry. ‘We know that if you just pay people to landscape your garden, not only is that really expensive but it’s also hard to feel pride in it,’ he said.
‘DMAG is about making gardening easy and affordable, and providing the resources to enable customers to be at the heart of their own projects.’
Customers locate their garden online via a satellite map. Next, they list any pre-existing features such as a terrace or a child’s play area, then select a preferred garden style, such as for example English cottage garden or Mediterranean.
Behind the scenes, DMAG’s algorithm whirrs away using these inputs together with local knowledge (soil type, elevation, sun direction) to map out the perfect garden design. Customers can visualise the design using 3D mapping tools on the DMAG website.
A qualified landscaper supports the design process and the customer receives a number of planning options to mull over.
Results come back almost instantaneously. ‘The idea was always to enable customers to do this wherever or whenever they wanted and it takes just a few seconds to get the first design back,’ said De Salaberry.
Once further small refinements are made, a 3D view is rendered, and customers can sit back and wait for all plants and growing instructions to be delivered.
A typical delivery might consist of between 200 – 300 plants. These come with biodegradable cardboard scaffolds cut to the exact garden size and instructions to help the gardeners plant them out.
So far, the DMAG team have supplied to gardeners of all kinds in France, Belgium and Luxembourg, with average expenditure of around €1 500.
De Salaberry likens his turnkey garden concept to how IKEA has revolutionised kitchen design.
As they look to scale-up this work in new EU countries and the US, they hope many more people will soon be asking them to start their gardening journey and “draw me a garden.”
If DMAG can help gardeners create the ideal future garden space, then the TrimBot2020 might be the answer to help maintain it.
The brainchild of computer vision and robotics’ expert, Professor Bob Fisher of the University of Edinburgh, TrimBot2020 is one of the first robot gardening devices that promises to do more than simply mow the lawn.
Based on a modified commercially available robot lawnmower, the autonomous vehicle prunes roses, trims hedges and shapes topiary, all while auto-navigating garden terrain.
To achieve this, the robot uses a ring of cameras to draw a 3D map of the garden, some robotic snippers and hefty dose of computer processing power.
‘There are ten cameras which work together to build up a 3D model of the garden, just like our eyes do,’ said Fisher.
Together, these cameras help the robot gain a 360-degree view of the complex terrain of the garden. The robot also matches what it sees to a hand drawn map supplied by the users.
Upon command, the TrimBot springs into life by rolling up to the bush and scanning it to build up a computer-vision model of that particular plant.
‘Once it has an idea of where all the stems are, its robotic arm comes out with the cutter and it starts snipping away,’ said Fisher.
For the TrimBot team, the commercial target market is horticultural businesses responsible for maintaining parks, gardens, and recreational areas.
In such cases, they believe the robot can take on pruning duties while the human gardener does something more challenging.
While the commercial future of TrimBot is yet to be determined, the real benefits may yet come through incorporating the technology into the “brains” of next-generation of garden robots.
‘Outdoor robotics is notoriously hard,’ said Fisher. Typical challenges include constant lighting changes, the many different shades of green and variations in the terrain.
Current robot lawnmowers usually require users to mark out an exact area to mow and to position a robot in the right place to start. TrimBot’s technology should enable robots of tomorrow to work that out themselves.
‘With the TrimBot project we’ve really demonstrated what might be possible in the future,’ said Fisher.
The research in this article was funded by the EU. This article was originally published in Horizon, the EU Research and Innovation Magazine.
Optical Gas Imaging – A New and Innovative Imaging Technology
Optical gas imaging (OGI) is a technique that allows for the detection of leaks in sealed containers of pressurized gases. The way OGI works is by using an infrared camera to visualize the heat given off by the escaping gas. Even though OGI technology is primarily used in a professional setting, it can also be used in homes – especially handheld OGI cameras.
This type of imaging can be used to find and fix leaks in a variety of applications, including pipeline monitoring, refinery monitoring, and environmental surveying. In this article, we will elaborate on how OGI cameras work and what are the benefits of owning such equipment, hopefully helping you decide if this technology is right for your needs.
In the vast majority of cases, OGI cameras are used in industrial settings to detect leaks of methane and other gases. Here’s a brief explanation of how they work:
Inside the camera, there is a laser that emits a beam of light. This beam is directed towards the area that needs to be imaged. When the beam hits a gas molecule, it causes the molecule to emit a small amount of light. This light is then detected by a sensitive sensor inside the camera, which is used to create an image.
Unlike traditional cameras, OGI cameras do not require a light source to create an image. This means that they can be used in complete darkness. Moreover, OGI cameras can see through smoky and dusty conditions that would normally obscure a traditional camera’s view.
One of the main benefits of using OGI cameras is that they can detect very small leaks that would otherwise go unnoticed. For example, a traditional camera might not be able to see a methane leak that is only emitting a few molecules of gas per second. However, an OGI camera would be able to detect this leak and allow for it to be fixed before it becomes a larger problem.
Thanks to the benefits they offer, OGI cameras are an essential tool for many industries. However, they can also be very useful as a home improvement tool. For example, if you have a natural gas line in your home, an OGI camera can help you find any leaks that might be present. This is important because natural gas is highly flammable and can be quite dangerous if it leaks into your home.
While some OGI camera models are extremely expensive, they are used by professionals and there is no reason for you to buy one of them. Instead, you can go for a handheld OGI camera, which is much more affordable and will still do the job just fine.
There are many benefits of using OGI cameras, both for individuals and businesses.
Firstly, OGI cameras can save you a lot of money. If you have a business that uses pressurized gases, such as a refinery or a pipeline company, then you know how expensive it can be to repair a gas leak. OGI cameras can help you find these leaks quickly and easily so that you can fix them before they cause too much damage.
OGI cameras can also help you save money on your home improvement projects. As we mentioned before, if you have a natural gas line in your home, an OGI camera can help you find any leaks that might be present – no matter how small they are. This way, you can fix the leaks before they cause any damage to your home.
Another benefit of OGI cameras is that they are very safe. Unlike other leak detection methods, such as using a combustible gas detector, OGI cameras do not emit any harmful radiation. This makes them much safer to use, both for you and for the environment.
Finally, OGI cameras are very easy to use. Even if you’ve never used one before, you’ll be able to quickly learn how to use an OGI camera. This makes them a great choice for businesses and homeowners alike.
In summary, OGI cameras are a great choice for businesses and homeowners who want to save money and be safe. They are very easy to use and can help you find leaks quickly and easily. If you think an OGI camera might be right for you, then be sure to check out the different models that are available. You’re sure to find one that fits your needs perfectly.
Why does your startup need an MVP and what is that?
Any startup starts with an idea, but it’s important to understand that there are a lot of ideas in the world and you have to weed out the unviable ones. If you believe in the necessity of your idea for users — great, but it is logical to check before starting a large-scale work, whether users need it and are they ready to pay for it?
This approach is safer, by checking the demand for your idea, you will save yourself and your company from a wasted effort in developing a product which will bankrupt the company. MVP, on the other hand, is a guarantee that allows you to say with more confidence that your product will be used.
MVP development is the creation of a product which has the minimum required set of features. It allows you to get some initial feedback from your users and decide whether to spend more money on its development. Sometimes it helps to understand that the idea is not interesting to the users and either to refuse development or to reconsider the main idea of the product. You can order the creation of MVP in Purrweb — MVP development company.
MVP can be considered as an alternative or as an addition to the research, which is important to do before you start MVP development. Researching the preferences of your target audience can be very different and is a topic for a separate article.
The purpose of MVP and the research is the same — to get confidence in the necessity of creating a product at the minimum cost, or in the viability of a unique feature if you are developing in an area where there is competition.
It’s important to understand that an MVP doesn’t mean a crude and unfinished prototype of your product. It should be quite the independent and full-fledged product, but it should have the minimal set of the necessary functions, allowing your users to satisfy their need for such a product.
Steps of MVP development:
- Define and articulate the main purpose of the product (or the main advantages over peers; there shouldn’t be many of them) to be realized during MVP development. In fact, the product can have more benefits and features, but in MVP we check only the core of our product.
- Determine how you will measure the effectiveness of the MVP (engagement metrics, numerical metrics, direct user surveys, etc.).
- Develop MVPs for specific capabilities and prepare ways to calculate effectiveness.
- Determine the effectiveness of MVP development, draw conclusions.
These steps may vary slightly for each product, the main thing is to understand the main purpose of the MVP, and in some cases you may need to iterate through several MVPs before you reach your goal and decide what the product should look like.
The conclusions may also vary. I wouldn’t advise you to drop the idea right away; if the MVP results don’t satisfy you, but it may be worth thinking about what to improve and how.
Based on the main purpose of creating an MVP, you can define the benefits:
- Gain confidence in the viability of your idea in a real environment and on real users.
- Saving money and effort by not putting it all into a failed project.
- Identify the most important features of your product that are important to users.
- Get the first real users who will be interested in the product.
With each new iteration, we need to improve the result. That is, the interval from the birth of the idea to its validation, should be reduced. It is clear that everything depends on the complexity of the idea, but the typical tasks and key processes should be minimized in time.
The peculiarity is to put one main value into one prototype. Remember what you need an MVP for? That’s right, to test an idea. One idea/single value. There is no sense in testing several ideas in a prototype at once, so you won’t get reliable data and will only spoil the whole experiment.
You need to test an idea, but how do you do that?
- Create 2-3 single-page (one-page site) where we make your idea of service.
- In the center put the “order” button.
- Determine the test budget for the campaign and the time for measuring the results.
- Set up advertising (context, social networks, or something else) for a pre-selected target audience.
- We start the flow on the webpage.
- See how many people click on the button and draw a conclusion.
If you are satisfied with the results, then take the service and make it nice, beautiful, convenient. If not, then just throw out the idea and move on to the next one. This is just one example of an MVP. To test a new feature on an existing product, you can simply hang a banner or a burning button, measure the clicks, and estimate the general interest of users in the new idea.
In practice, it also happens that while doing hypothesis testing, you might not make a prototype at all. You will find the answer in already existing sources of information.
Below is a list of principles without which your MVP is not an MVP.
- Don’t do it if you can’t do it. Look for ready-made solutions.
- Cut down. Get rid of everything unnecessary in your prototype; leave only the main value for the user.
- No beauty. Don’t delve into design, make a working prototype, and don’t waste resources.
- Know your MVP users. Gather as much information as you can about those who will interact with the MVP.
- MVP is about to see if you can make money from the idea.
- Cut back on MVP development, time, and design. Leave only the main thing that will help test the idea.
- The MVP should work and carry one, core value.
- No backend. To create an MVP, look for options without heavy and long MVP development.
- Get it up and running as early as possible. Even if it fails, we’ll have the advantage of first. If the chip is new, the user will be more loyal.
There’s a checklist for that, too:
- You can be the first users yourself.
- Relatives, friends, acquaintances.
- We write to everyone, visit them, make phone calls.
- Social networks. We ask for feedback from everyone who responds.
- Opinion leaders. Those who are listened to by many people.
- Cold calls.
- The press.
Do not forget about feedback channels; leave your contacts (mail, phones, messengers, and social networks). Information from first users should come to you freely. The man has already spent his time testing your product.
Do not make him look for ways to share his opinion. That’s what we need. Well, about metrics. All the gestures with users, prototypes and so on are used for a purpose. If you have read to this point, you know that this purpose is hypothesis testing. And to test it, you have to actively watch the metrics.
Don’t forget to set up all the necessary counters. Get the data and draw conclusions about where you need to go.
What is MVP development? It is hypothesis testing. It is about speed. It is about the economy of resources. And what is more important, you need to work with it, and you have everything you need.
Space – the greener frontier – is good for business
The European Union Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA) was established in 2021 to become the operational arm of the European Union’s space ambitions. That means they manage the commercialisation of applications coming from satellites such as mapping, navigation and science missions. We spoke with Rodrigo da Costa, the executive director about the business of space in Europe and its contribution to the EU Green Deal.
What benefits can people expect from European space commerce in the near future?
Space is the new technological revolution, and it is changing the way we live, work and play. From the navigation system in our cars to the landing of the last flight we took, to the map on our mobile phone – even though we may not know it, the benefits of satellite technology are everywhere.
All smartphones sold in the European single market (since March 2022) are using Galileo satnav signals. This improves an emergency call’s location which will result in faster response times and more lives saved.
In other words, space is a solution – an invisible infrastructure providing very visible services.
How is the business of space set to grow?
Annual sales of satnav receivers are forecast to grow from 1.8 billion to 2.5 billion devices from 2021-2031. The consumer, tourism and health markets will dominate. Smartphones and wearables account for 92% of the receivers. Over 10 billion satnav devices will be installed by 2031, globally.
Apart from the consumer market, the professional markets of agriculture, urban development, cultural heritage and infrastructure will also contribute to the revenue stream.
The Internet of Things (IoT) enabled devices and applications, data-driven services and the push for smart cities and mobility will lead to increased demand.
In terms of Earth observation, commercial revenues are set to double from roughly €2.8 billion to over €5.5 billion over the next decade.
What role does knowledge from space play to help protect our planet?
Copernicus Services monitor a number of key climate indicators, such as sea levels, temperature and air currents. This data can then be used to help develop global climate policy decisions.
Through the Copernicus Climate Change Service we provide information about the past, present, and future climate to business and policy makers.
Europe’s space programme provides a wealth of information about climate (see below).
Surveillance of climate
The above image of Norwegian fjords near Tromsø inside the Arctic circle shows the effects of the intense heatwave gripping much of Europe in June 2022. The darker areas of water indicate a massive sediment discharge into the fjords from melting ice.
Copernicus services are used to monitor climate change in environments such as the Arctic regions.
On 30 June 2022, one of the Copernicus Sentinel-3 satellites captured this image, showing the Saharan dust cloud engulfing the skies of North Africa, South Italy and Malta. The storm is expected to persist and reach Spain in the coming days.
There have been several dust storm episodes in 2022 so far. They are bad for human health and also affect solar energy production by depositing sand on the solar panels, limiting their productivity. The Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) provides forecasts to help plan the measures needed to limit the negative effects of dust storms.
EU space applications
Galileo is the European Union’s independent satnav system. Logistics companies use it to track shipping and aircraft use it when taking off and landing. In-car navigation is aided by the fact that Galileo is more accurate over cities than traditional GPS (US) and GLONASS (Russia) satnavs.
Galileo also boasts of better security from hackers. The resilience ensures quality and dependability. Apart from navigation services, Galileo also supports search and rescue beacons for people in distress.
Designed and built in Europe, Galileo is having a massive impact for European and world commerce. Already, the next generation of Galileo satnav is being planned.
The Copernicus Earth Observation programme is used extensively for climate change science.
The Sentinel and other satellites are capable of monitoring temperature and sea level conditions on earth as well as other climate measurements. This data can then be fed into global climate policy decisions.
‘Because the oceans absorb carbon, their temperatures go up, which has a whole host of knock-on effects,’ da Costa said, ‘Including rising sea levels, changes in fish migration, the dying-off of coral reefs and shifts in the world’s climate patterns.’
The EU Space Programme also plays a role in limiting the impact of climate change on the Arctic environment. For example, the accurate navigation offered by Galileo can optimise shipping routes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fuel consumption.
Follow the link to learn how key climate indicators are monitored by the Copernicus Marine and Climate Change Services.
The Copernicus Emergency Management Service (EMS) provides information for emergency response to catastrophes, natural or man-made. Whether it’s fires, floods, earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes or other disasters, emergency services can make use of the rapid mapping service to obtain highly detailed views of conditions on the ground.
‘Last summer, when wildfires ravaged Greece, public authorities called on the Copernicus EMS to monitor the evolving situation,’ said da Costa. ‘When floods struck Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg (also in 2021), satellites provided rescue teams with the highly accurate positioning and navigation they needed to save lives.’
The research in this article was funded by the EU. This article was originally published in Horizon, the EU Research and Innovation Magazine.
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