This project started as a simple desire to have fresh microgreens daily without being an urban farmer.
Microgreens is a ~10 days old seedlings of plants like broccoli, kale, arugula, sunflower, red cabbage, etc. (there over 100 of them). They are 4–40x more nutritious than their mature counterparts and considered a functional food, a food that promotes health or prevents disease. They show cardioprotective, anti-inflammatory, and anti-carcinogen effects, increase detoxification, low in calories, and high in fiber, which makes them essential for our gut microbiome.
If you’re curious, I put together a list of scientific studies on different microgreens. Click here to check them out.
With all these benefits we should probably eat them regularly. But all the ways to do this right now is inconvenient and wasteful.
Globally: With the current supply chain, we lose 25% of the fresh produce during transportation plus, on average, another 25% after purchase — 50% wasted in total — that’s insane. And we lose 45% of its nutritional value along its journey from farm to fork. We create gas emissions during production and logistics and generate 3000 tons of plastic waste from packaged salad every year in the US alone. In addition, we need to increase food production by 70% by 2050 and do it in a more sustainable way than now.
Personally: To have a constant supply of fresh greens — you need to make a constant effort. You can’t buy or grow fresh greens in advance. When you apply efforts (go to the store, grow your crop) — you have your supply, but when you stop — supply also stops. If you rely on grocery stores, you need to have a robust routine to buy it. You need to keep in mind to do it, it takes time, and items can be sold out or not fresh. And I mentioned before that, on average, 25% of the greens you bought usually go to waste. Even delivery must be managed quite frequently. The current growing devices are turning you into a farmer. They automate only a growing process, so you still need to do regular actions to plant, harvest, and clean the device. Often, after a couple of months of use, they end up collecting dust on the shelves. In any of those ways, we can’t be 100% sure about food safety. FDA recommends cook fresh greens, but that way, we lose most of its health benefits. And we are paying from our pockets for all that along with markup.
AutoGreens can change that. You can enjoy fresh microgreens daily, up to 10x cheaper, and without constant efforts.
Unlike any other currently available solution, it takes care of all parts of the process, from sowing to growing to harvesting. It has a unique conveyor-like design with a 10-day growing area. So when you eat a portion — another will automatically start. With such on-demand production, your greens are always freshly cut — increasing their nutritional value and reducing food and plastic waste.
AutoGreens is beautiful and can be integrated into your place as a lamp or a shelf or even a bench providing not only functional benefits but and aesthetic ones.
It has built-in air and water purification systems that solve the potential contamination problem. Sun-like led light, temperature, and humidity control provide perfect growing conditions. Pre-packed seed rolls contain growing medium and seed for up to 200 daily portions (100–150gr / 3–5oz). Changing a seed roll once in 200 days is the only maintenance you need to do. It seems too good to be true, but it’s not.
That way, regular consumption of fresh greens from a hassle becomes an effortless healthy habit.
Our health and health of our close ones are the most important things. It affects everything else in our lives. And we often know what we need to do to take care of it, but just don’t do it for some reason. We forget we don’t have time, and we think that we are healthy until something breaks.
On the one hand, we can be more conscious about that and correct our behavior, and we should. On the other hand, we live in an amazing time where some of the chores that make us healthier can be automated so that we can get benefits without the hassle that was previously needed.
With AutoGreens, you can have a better quality of life with less effort. You can have better health with less effort. Isn’t that what technology ideally supposed to do? Unload, unburden, free your mind, so that you have more time for things that matter the most?
Not many devices around us are like that. Why? It’s not a technological problem.
We can look at the products in 3 ways. Technological — the product functions and serves its purpose. Economical — the product has a sustainable business model. And Behavioral — people actually use it, and it makes their lives better. The problem that the companies need only the first two to exist. Behavioral aspect only partially influences sales. Users often end up thinking that it’s their problem that they rarely use the product they bought, which is not entirely true. From an inventor’s standpoint, I see it as unfinished work because the system doesn’t take into account their behavior and therefore works inefficiently.
We need to include actual human behavior into consideration. Many good systems break in that spot. Sure, people can grow microgreens at home. But let’s face it, they rarely do it, and the ones that actually do are really into it. It’s so much easier to buy a packaged salad from a store than putting in that effort. It’s less good for them and less good for the environment, but it’s easier. AutoGreens can make it easier to be better for them and the environment.
Today more than ever, we have access to devices that are supposed to make our lives better. But most of them are designed in a way that requires frequent attention and effort to get the benefits that they promise. We also have to be the ones who do the maintenance, so eventually, we give up on using them altogether.
Whole history humans automate and outsource things they don’t want to do to have time and energy for the more interesting and more important stuff. So to have the next leap in life quality improvement, we should develop products with minimum and low-frequency maintenance. We need to start developing and supporting products in a way that maximizes the actual value delivered. And right now it’s mostly a mindset shift than a technological breakthrough.
Another important aspect of that shift is the need for lifetime ecosystems that help maximize the benefits of every device.
Here how it can look with AutoGreens. If you buy AutoGreens and then don’t order the next seed roll for a long time, we’ll offer you to sell it back to us or list it for sale on our website. It’s a win-win system. Users don’t hold onto things they don’t use, and we maximize the number of active users and the usefulness of every unit we produce. We give you a chance to buy AutoGreens cheaper than its market price and, at the same time, get to learn UX problems of the device. If your device is no longer functional, we’ll help you recycle it.
I would be happy if other companies adopted some of the described strategies.
What’s next? I’m always the first customer for my inventions. Right now, I’m finishing a prototype for personal use. It’s a bit rough and designed a bit differently for testing purposes, but it will do the job. I also want to experiment with mushrooms mycelium rolls for growing lions mane or other types of mushrooms in a similar way.
I think it can become a great product and a statement on how future home robotic appliances should deliver benefits without constant effort and attention from the user.
For the next couple of months, I’ll write posts with prototyping updates and address topics around this project, such as health, user behavior, habits, life quality, microgreens, food supply chain, ecology & sustainability, state of tech, and it’s future, home robotics, product development, value delivery, etc.
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