Their plant sticks won third prize
Small sticks in the soil send a signal to your mobile that it is high time to get watering. Of the 22 competing teams at the CDIO Academy at MIT; Victor, Fredrik and Victor won third prize. (Updated 14 June 2013)
The competition, which is open to all universities affiliated to CDIO, was announced to the master’s students in Engineering Physics and Electrotechnology late last autumn. Victor Birath, Fredrik Kvillborn and Victor Bergelin, all third-year students, quickly got involved.
“We had a few ideas and immediately applied to take part,” Birath explains.
After submitting an outline and design specification, and receiving approval from Professor Svante Gunnarsson, they were able to get things rolling.
“We have probably spent at least 1,000 hours on this during the spring, alongside doing our normal lessons,” says Bergelin.
Now the product is almost ready and they and another group have been chosen to go to MIT and represent Linköping University at the CDIO Academy.
“The CDIO concept involves designing, developing, manufacturing and selling; two parts were obligatory but we think we have got all four boxes ticked. We will be presenting a finished product,” Bergelin says.
The product, called Dewnote, is a “smart” plant stick equipped with a small processor and a communication unit. The stick reports on moisture status via radio signal to a node which in turn is connected via WiFi to a computer. If there is too little water in a flowerpot a signal is sent to your mobile; you can also see how your plants are getting along via a web interface.
“I grow tomatoes and they need water often, so I can really see the need for a product like this,” Birath says.
Virtually as many plants as you like may be attached to the same node and the range, which is academic in any case, is 70 metres indoors and 300 metres outdoors.
“We haven't done much rigorous testing, but the signal definitely passes through four concrete walls,” says Victor Birath.
The solution may perhaps appear simple, but a number of different knowledge areas were needed to create the whole: analogue and digital technology, sensor technology, communications electronics, web programming, database management and much more. Some of that has been in the courses they studied up to now, but they also had to get hold of and read up on concepts that are part of the fourth- and fifth-year courses.
“The courses are very theoretical, but we have been able to put together our combined knowledge and learning to make a commercial product and that feels fantastic! You can carry on studying till eleven at night but you can keep going with this stuff until three in the morning,” Birath says.
At this point Dewnote is a prototype and the plant sticks probably cost ten or eleven Euros each.
“But we’ve begun looking a bit at manufacturing methods and we can probably get the cost down quite a bit,” Bergelin says.
On 5 June they were heading off to Boston, and on 11 June the actual competition was held. All the teams competing present their entries at a fair and a team of judges go around assessing them.
“It’s going to be exciting to get feedback and to see what all the others have done and to actually be in MIT - that’s not something you often get a chance to do.
After some 24 hours of waiting, the result was presented: an honorable third place for the plant stick Dewnote and the guys from Linköping University.
Facts about CDIO
CDIO – Conceive, Design, Implement and Operate – is an initiative taken by MIT, the KTH Swedish Royal Institute of Technology, Chalmers University and Linköping University to strengthen the creative elements of engineering education. 50 universities in 25 countries have joined the initiative. There are, generally speaking, CDIO courses in all of LiU’s engineering education programmes.
Follow their journey at CDIO Academy on their blog
CDIO Academy (external site)
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Conditions for development and innovation in working life are the theme of a conference being held in Linköping on 11-14 June. Examples of subjects that will be discussed are employees who themselves develop ideas for improving their work, conditions for running businesses in eastern Africa, and the effects of large projects.
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The board of the Faculty of Science and Engineering has confirmed a case of misconduct in research. It consists of confirmed large-scale plagiarism of text.
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Michael Martin of the Division for Environmental Technology and Management shows in his PhD thesis that industrial symbiosis may be one way to reach EU targets for biofuels. He also introduces a method for calculating the contribution from individual companies.
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KVIT, the annual student conference of cognitive science and information technology celebrates its 20th anniversary with an interdisciplinary conference for 200 participants, also from European universities, at Östergötland Museum on 16-17 May.
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The expression "illegal immigrant" is no longer used at the Associated Press news agency. Per Hansen, migration researcher at the Institute for Research on Migration Ethnicity and Society (REMESO), has long argued against the term.
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The National Thesis Award 2012 is given to LiU master's students Ekaterina Kalinina and Meaza Eshetu Abebe. Their master's thesis focus on coordination of projects within creative industries, involving multiple organisations.
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Last updated: 2013-06-18