Image of Blossom prototype
Overview
Blossom is a smart device that helps plant owners take care of their plants. It makes use of both ambient light notifications and mobile push notifications to alert users to their plant's needs.
Research Methods: semi-structured interviews (remote and in-person), surveys, usability testing, prototyping, interface design
Contributions: interviews, surveys, sketching, storyboarding, physical prototyping, usability testing
Process
The process of this project. Lit review, user research, design, prototype, evaluation.
Research
Objective
How might we help inexperienced plants owners feel better equipped to buy and maintain plants.
User Profile
​​​​​​​Age: 18-34
Location: City
Income: Low to Medium
Technology Experience: Comfortable
Technology Available: Smartphone, laptop
Domain Knowledge: New to inexperienced
Attitudes and Values: Aesthetics, wellness
Semi-structured Interviews
Interviews were conducted both in-person and remotely, over phone or video call.  We recruited and interviewed nine individuals who fit our user profile as well as three plant sellers.
Our main objectives in interviewing participants who fit within our primary user group were to find out:
     • why they choose to buy houseplants
     • what considerations do they have when buying a houseplant
     • where do they buy houseplants
     • how do they maintain their houseplants
​​​​​​​
For our plant sellers, our main objectives were to find out:
     • what considerations customers tend to have when they buy a houseplant
     • what important factors customers should know before buying a houseplant
     • what important factors customers should know after buying a houseplant
     • the demographics of customers
     • the pain points of selling houseplants to customers
​​​​​​​Affinity Mapping​​​​​​​
We used qualitative analysis to identify key themes and issues from our interviews.
Results
The main themes that came from our analysis were:
     • plant care is not obvious or easy to understand
     • plant owners sometimes don't know what plant they own
     • the information needed when buying a plant is not always accessible in one place
     • users have specific criteria that plant needs to fit into
     • there is emotional value in owning a plant
Design
Ideation
From the themes we identified, we began generating design ideas. These were then grouped in different  concepts that were graded on feasibility, relevance, and creativity. We then narrowed the concepts down to the three we felt were strongest and explored these options further.
Concept One
Our first concept was an augmented-reality app that would help users visualize plants in a location, find an ideal location for their plant, and give information on its ease of maintenance and care requirements.
Concept sketches for an AR application to help visualize plants in a space.
Concept Two
Our second concept was an in-store kiosk that could suggest plants based on a user's criteria and give details about a plant, its care requirements, and optimal placement.
Concept sketches for a kiosk to aid in plant selection and care.
Concept Three
Our third concept was a smart sensor that tracks and monitors a plant's health and would notify the user through ambient and mobile push notifications when the plant requires intervention.
Concept sketches for a device that would track a plant's health.
Validation
These three concept focused on different aspects of the plant buying and maintenance experience. We deployed a survey to discover at which stage our users needed the most support and what pain points ranked as high priority. From the 39 responses to the survey, we found that respondents generally felt more confident buying a plant than they did in maintaining it. The top three areas respondents needed help with for plants they owned were information on how to take care of the plant, how to diagnose issues the plant has, and how to identify when something is wrong with the plant.
Table mapping design concepts to features
Since the data from the survey seemed to favor something more care oriented, we decided to focus on our third concept, the soil sensor.
Prototyping
​​​​​​​This product has two components which we prototypedthe app and the sensor. For the app, we decided what user flows would be most important for the product and settled on the set-up, the viewing of a plant's health, and the addressing of a notification.
Set-up flow in the app.
Set-Up
Users go through the on-boarding process and link up the device to their plant via the app. If they know what kind of plant they own, they can add it by the type of plant, if not they can use their camera to help identify the plant. 
Flow to view a particular plant's health.
Plant Health
Users can view all their linked plants via My Garden. They can also get an overview of their plants' health at a glance. Should a plant require care, there will be  a notification enumerating the number of notifications associated with that olant. The user can click on a particular plant to view specific metrics in greater detail and get a history of the plant's health.
Flow to address a notification regarding a plant's health.
Notifications
When their plant has an issue, the user will get a notification. For the notification that appears on the app, the user can click on it to be directed to the plant's detail page where they can get more information about the issue needing to be resolved as well as indicate that they have addressed the issue.
For the sensor, we focused on creating a mock-up and used Arduino to control the simulated light notification.
The form factor of the sensor was modeled after a Pycnosorus globus, or a billy ball. We decided to take inspiration from organic forms so that it would fit in with its plant and not be too distracting ​​​​​​​.
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