Plants are responsible for doing a tremendous amount of work on Earth using sunlight to power their metabolic process. They have also been shown to have a calming effect on people and personally helped to lift my mood in an otherwise dreary NYC urban life.
For my solar project I want to pay homage to plants by recreating the experience of tending to one with a virtual plant that lives on a solar powered e-ink display.
I have done some work with solar panels in the past, creating a solar powered GPS tracker for my car, and my biggest tripping point was power consumption. Going into this I want to set myself up with low power components to ensure that the project will be feasible.
My initial sourcing for components includes:
- Waveshare 5.65 inch 7 Color E-ink Display
- Voltaic Systems 2 Watt 6 Volt Solar Panel
- Adafruit Universal USB / DC / Solar Lithium Ion/Polymer charger
- Arduino Nano 33 IoT
I have wanted to work with e-ink displays for a while now and think it will make a great addition to this project due to its low power use and infinite display duration. While I have seen lots of practical uses of e-ink displays, often to show the weather or other status updates, and occasionally electronic picture frames, this kind of virtual pet use case I think will be a unique variation.
Like a real house plant the virtual plant will respond to its environment. Lots of light will ensure healthy growth, and if you’re fortunate some flowers. Too little light and the plant will whither. I see placement in proximity to light being the primary form of interaction and key to controlling the growth of the virtual plant. Practically through measuring the current output of the solar panel it will be possible to control the growth of the plant over time.
Free Form Project
For my free form project I want to flush out my previous energy tracking project, which will include making the smart plug hack available available as a resource on GitHub. Time permitting I would also like to expand the energy use visualizer to include the most common sources of electrical power in order to compare the impact of various energy sources.