Open-source robot to optimize backyard gardening


1. Sustainability Problem

Food and agriculture: There is growing demand in cities for local produce, but small-scale gardening tends to be both labor-intensive and resource inefficient.

2. Technology Article Summary

The FarmBot Genesis Brings Precision Agriculture To Your Own Backyard

by Andrew Hayward
Published 6/27/2016 on modern farmer at

  • A three-person team from California has developed a data-enabled machine to sow and water seeds in small gardens.
  • The FarmBot Genesis is pre-programmed to optimize spacing and watering for thirty three common plant varieties – but the open source coding means that it can be adapted by the user for specific applications.
  • The bot can be controlled from a smartphone or computer, and users can customize plantings using in a simple interface that looks like a computer game.
  • The current system can manage a plot up to 2.9 meters × 1.4 meters, with a maximum plant height of 0.5 meters – but there is potential to develop and customize the technology for a variety of applications.

3. Organizational Stakeholders

This technology is now available for pre-order, and the immediate stakeholders will be:

  • Backyard farmers
  • Urban agriculture organizations and cooperatives

Because the technology is open source and has potential for development, future stakeholders could include:

  • Operators of commercial-scale greenhouse operations
  • Plant researchers working in controlled environments

4. Deployment

The next three stages in deploying this technology could be:

  • Creators: disseminate the Genesis model
  • Early adopters: identify value-add applications
  • Creators: scale up manufacturing to bring cost below $1000/unit

See also:


App to help everyone become a scientist



Google’s new Science Journal app makes it easy to perform scientific experiments anytime.
The app lets users set up trials and experiments. It uses the sensors on a smart phone to record measure and explore the experiment’s data, and makes the analysis fun and easy to do. (As nerdy as it may sound – it makes science more fun than it already is.)


Sustainability challenge:

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals were launched in 2015. Goal number 4 reads: Quality Education – Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
Making good education accessible to all is a major challenge for our current education system. In most situations, the wealthy still get better access to education and consequently more opportunities. This also means that lifelong learning is currently very expensive – be it for a 10-year-old in 6th grade trying to understand what gravity is, or for a university student who is drowning in debt.

An engaging and user-friendly app can take online learning to the next level. The article has a fun video explain how the Science Journal app works. A little girl in the video says: “Everyone is a scientist”. It looks like the app (along with the right implementation and usage) can make it possible.


  • Everyone who has access to a smart phone and the internet
  • Educators – rural, urban, privileged and under-privileged alike
  • Google and their global partner companies and service providers
  • Governments who can regulate education and technology policies
  • NGOs that are supporting SDG Goal 4: Quality Education

Process of implementation:

Introducing any new technology in the field of education has one major challenge – teaching the teacher before they can teach anyone else. Though this app is very easy to use and has an accessible to all, making the best use of it requires some basic training and in some cases also requires you to purchase some ad-ons (additional sensors or apps).

Currently the app has a few free and standard modules. Expanding this and consciously improving the quality of education provided will be another implementation hurdle.

A possible implementation model could be: Promote the app -> partner with schools and NGOs (like the Imagination Foundation) globally to make this accessible to all student -> use real-time data to improve the features offered and remove any bugs -> help provide good quality scientific education to all and promote creativity.

After all, Play is the best form of Research!


Solar Powered Aircraft to Encourage Clean Energy Use on Land

1) Sustainability problem: Energy

Globalization has made it possible to reach even the most remote areas on this planet. But fulfilling wanderlust desires by conventional air travel relies on unclean energy and pollutes our atmosphere.

2) Technology: Solar Impulse 2

Article: Sun Powered Solar Impulse Plane Next Last Leg Worldwide Journey by Doyle Rice, Published 7/11/2016 on USA Today at–last-leg-worldwide-journey/86943808/

  • First solar airplane to fly day and night without any fuel
  • It took 12 years of R&D to create the environmentally friendly aircraft, which has almost completed its journey around the world
  • The solar powered aircraft has come to life using smart energy systems, energy efficient electric motors, low density thermal insulation, energy dense batteries, lightweight LEDS, ultralight materials, and protective resins over the solar cells
  • Currently runs much slower than commercial aircrafts, for instance, its journey from Japan to Hawaii took nearly 5 days (without stopping)

3) Organizational Stakeholders:

  • Airlines
  • Clean energy providers
  • Clean energy supporters
  • Oil/fuel suppliers and stakeholders

4) Propose the first 3 steps in deploying this technology

  • Complete the last two journeys around the globe
  • Identify the correlation between the project completion and the project mission statement, “if an airplane can fly several days and nights in a row with no fuel, then clean technologies can be used on the ground to reduce our energy consumption, and create profit and jobs”
  • Use the identified correlation between the Solar Impulse 2 and mission statement to promote clean energy and raise money for a larger impact project


Additional Sources:

Healthcare Leader Improves Workflow & Patient Satisfaction

Sustainability Agenda:

  • Waste Reduction
  • Transparency and Work Flow Efficiency
  • Safer and Improved Patient Care Environment

Technology Article:

“In healthcare today, the patient experience is of utmost importance. By accurately capturing where our delays were, we were able to identify our primary challenges and implement solutions to directly impact those areas.”

By: Kristen Brown, Clinical Manager of Children’s National Health System


Summary (Challenges):

Children’s National Health System is a pediatric care provider in Washington, D.C. For over 140 years, Children’s National has pioneered new therapies and treatments across a wide array of medical specialties, from neonatal services to cancer care.

The Children’s National Cancer Center is a very busy outpatient clinic, with 100+ providers, seeing 200+ patients each day. At Children’s National, successful cancer treatment is not just about delivering medication, but also about providing a friendly, comfortable environment where patients can feel safe for the duration of their treatment. This includes providing art and music therapy to patients while they wait.

When a child comes in for cancer treatment, the visit often is a multi-step process that takes hours. Accompanied by their parents or other caregivers, patients must sign in, give vital signs, have blood drawn, wait for lab results, see clinicians, and perhaps sit through lengthy chemotherapy infusions. There were so many moving parts going on at one time. Lab results might take an hour or two and patients would get bored and wander. Or, they might leave the unit for radiology or some ancillary service and would need to be tracked down at every turn. Children’s National spent too much time simply looking for their patients.

The excessive wait times, and a general lack of information made for a less than pleasant patient experience. The clinical processes had become inefficient and there was no data to track the patient flow to find and fix bottlenecks. Children’s National wanted to make the system more transparent to families, making it possible for everyone to know where they stood in line to be seen by their providers.

Children’s National tackled the challenges inherent in paper-based information flows—and in the process also increased its own staff efficiency. The Savance Health Staff Tracking solution was used to improve communication and workflow, and healthcare team organization. This significantly decreases patient wait times and increases patient satisfaction.

Technology Stakeholders:

  1. Healthcare Institutions (Children’s National Cancer Center)
  2. Healthcare Providers (Primary Care Technician, Clinic Operations Manager Doctors, Nurses, Clinicians, etc)
  3. Patients (children) and their parents, other caregivers/family members

Technology Deployment: 

Savance Health deployed customized solutions: Patient Self Check-In, Waiting Room Display, and Patient Tracking & Flow solutions, helping Children’s National completely transform the workflow of its cancer and blood disorders unit so that when a patient arrives at the clinic, their adult caregiver signs them in at an easy-to-use touch-screen kiosk.

Savance Health Patient Self Check-In can pull information straight from an ID card, a driver’s license, or an insurance card, and easily fill out the patient’s address, phone number, current doctor, current medications, insurance, and date of birth. The solution delivers two key benefits: accurate and complete patient information – acquired through a patient-friendly process.

Once the patient has signed in, Savance’s Patient Tracking & Flow solution takes the mystery out of clinical workflows and patient location. The software tracks where patients are at any given time, and how much time they spend in each area. A display screen in the waiting room —with patient names symbolized by pictures of animals to maintain confidentiality— tells families how many patients are ahead of them to see their specific provider.

Another screen in the clinic workroom shows where patients stand in the day’s workflow. This allows Children’s Health not only to find patients quickly without searching the building, but also to see where process breakdowns occur and take steps to increase workflow efficiency.

Technology Benefits:

  1. Simplify patient sign-in with self-service check-in kiosk
  2. Ability to time-stamp patient flow though clinic to monitor detail
  3. Free staff from physically tracking down patients
  4. Optimize patient and staff scheduling
  5. Leverage patient flow data to alleviate bottlenecks during peak demand
  6. Improve patient experience through better communication and shorter wait times

Other references:






  • Technology:

Many new construction technologies are being developed to help build sustainable buildings. Sustainable and green construction materials, green ventilation architecture, zero-energy buildings etc. are some of the key areas technology innovation is driving sustainability. Zero-energy buildings are specially designed and engineered to rely on renewable sources of energy allowing them to operate independent of the electric grid.


  • Problem:

About 40% of total U.S. energy consumption was consumed in residential and commercial buildings, or about 39 quadrillion British thermal units. The primary sources of this energy demand is met by fossil fuels like coal, petroleum and natural gas which are harmful to our environment causing devastating effects.

  • Stakeholders:
  1. Consumers, Institutions, Commercial Enterprises around the world
  2. Manufacturers
  3. Environmentalists
  4. Governments


  • Implementation:
  • Incorporate green and zero-energy construction technologies like solar, wind, smart glass, smart roofs and natural sun-light
  • Provide meaningful government support and subsidies for green buildings
  • Legislate incorporating green standards to be used on building constructions. Ex: % green thresholds similar to emission controls or minimum mileage standards in automobiles



The Ocean Cleanup




There is a lot of human made waste going to the ocean every year. One of the most damaging type of waste is the plastic due to its potential impact on flora and fauna, and its little capability of decomposing. The amount of plastic in the ocean increases in around 8 million tons annually.


The Ocean Cleanup is a non-profit with the mission of cleaning up the ocean from plastic waste. The technology consists con a floating v-shaped array made of a net that goes a few feet into the ocean. The staff of the project states that the device is flexible enough to be able to move through the ocean´s currents without being damaged by the nature´s force.


  • Governments of coastal countries.
  • Fishing industry.
  • Beach tourists.


The pilot is already ongoing. Many oceanographers doubt the technology´s capability to resist the ocean´s forces. In response to this, improvements in the device have to be made. The organization needs to focus on securing more funding (which so far has been coming from non-profits) to further develop the technology and expand the pilot.

Living Power converts cooking oil to energy for UK National Grid

  1. Sustainability Problem: Energy
    1. Energy usage can be difficult to supply during peak periods
    2. Traditional sources of energy such as fossil fuels like petroleum, natural and coal release CO2 into the atmosphere (driving climate change) and other pollutants
    3. Alternative technology for turning biofuels into energy exist but then energy and food needs would have to compete for limited arable land
  2. Technology/Solution
    1. The company Living Power in the UK is collecting used cooking oils from households and businesses, processing it and selling it to the national grid.  The oil is “recycled into a renewable carbon neutral fuel the company can use to generate power.”
    1. The fuel then powers large engines that provide power to the National Grid, especially during peak usage periods.
    2. Drop off sites are accessible with 90% of people being within 15 minute drive of one of the 500 drop off sites.
  3. Stakeholders
    1. Households and businesses that want to sustainably discard large amounts of cooking waste
    2. Living Power company
    3. National Grid
    4. Consumers of food (because land mass wont be used for biofuels)
  4. 3 steps to implement
    1. Continue to seek investors to scale program
    2. Lobby politicians to pass regulations that require the reuse of cooking oils of a certain daily volume
    3. Provide market based incentives for people or businesses to drop off their cooking oil