Just an update on the situation in these cold days of January.
The Alpha testing phase for our controller will terminate as planned at the end of January. Then, in February we are going to start the Beta testing program, widening the circle of beta testers and opening it to the public.
Let me recap what we’ve done in the past months.
We distributed our hydroponic controller to a small group of experts to see how it would work in real life situations. This was an important step because, as usual, everything always works well in your laboratory but when your users start to play with it all the strangest things start to happen… It’s mathematical.
As a development engineer you think all the possible use cases, you write thousands of test case for unit testing, you try to crash every single software module, you smash the box, you throw it into the lake, and at the end you are satisfied. Your software is a tank. It will work forever. Nobody can stop it. Nobody.
Except your Alpha tester. The dreaded Alpha tester.
How is it possible that in half an hour your Alpha tester can cripple the product that you lovely tested for months? Does he have supernatural power? Or is it just (bad) luck?
Jokes aside, this is often due to the fact that you develop and you test your product in determined and stable conditions on your bench. Then you test different setups and it still works. But as hard as you try, it’s very difficult to test all the possible environment. And guess what? Your user has for sure one of those environments that you didn’t test and that causes that extremely rare bug to come to surface.
Moreover your extremely curious user will try to do something that you didn’t tried because you, the engineer, know that it would not work. That’s the power of user.
But I’m not blaming our Alpha testers. Instead, I want to publicly thank them for having helped us on finding those nasty bugs. During the past months we passed some great moments of frustration on both sides and I want to thank them for the patience toward us and the product. With their help we could identify some major bugs and things that didn’t work as expected. Besides, they also gave many interesting advice on how to improve the controller.
So, a big thank to you, dear Alpha testers.
This is just another demonstration of how important is to test your product as soon as possible with your users. Even on a small scale.
Now, we didn’t wait the end of the Alpha stage to implement the improvements. Hot software fixing has been done on-the-fly and automatically uploaded on testers’ machine. In parallel we started working on the improvement of the user interface, that lacked a bit of usability. This will be ready for the beta.
On the hardware side we worked on a new release of the hardware that solves a bunch of other problems. We already have the new version on our table and we are testing it internally to check that everything is fine.We still have to do some major work on the documentation, the website and everything else not technical.
But the machine is working full throttle and everything will be ready for the February Beta test.
Stay tuned on this channel, you will soon get some good news.
Long time has passed since last post and you will be curious about our progresses.
Behind the long silence there thousands of line of code, dozens of burnt integrated circuits, countless sleepless nights and hard, hard work. Uh, and even some beers.
We progressed well on all the departments and the result is that last week we proudly started our official alpha testing program for the controller.
For this first stage toward the release on the market, we provided alpha prototypes to our selected partners. We distributed a small testing kit to our testing team that includes botanists, biologists, teachers, marketing people, industrial designers and shop managers. With their help we will refine the features set and hopefully iron out most of the bugs in order to prepare the next phase, public beta testing.
For the public beta testing we will open the program to any interested party. We will announce it officially during the coming months. Subscribe to the newsletter to not miss the opportunity!
There are two great days in a person’s life – the day we are born and the day we discover why. (William Barclay)http://abisgroup.ru
Let me try to fulfill my promise to answer all your questions. Today’s blog will deal with the “why” we are doing all this.
We are developing a product. It will help you growing your vegetables at home. Nice. But… why?
Good question, that in reality can be translated to “why are we doing this?” and “why should you care?”.
The answer to the first question is that we really want to improve the health of our magnificent planet and the people living on it. The motivation that keep us waking up early in the morning and go late to bed is that we want give our contribution in saving the world. Of course, there are many ways. We tried to candidate to the Miss Universe contest since it seems that saving the world is the common goal of all the candidates, but without success. So we went back to what we are good in: inventing things (and having fun).
We believe that the current state of the food production chain is not sustainable for the long term. Take a look to the vegetable production. Food is cultivated in remote areas using intensive agricultural methods. You know what it means. Chemical nutrients, pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides are pumped into an otherwise dead ground. Water is sprinkled with a great use of energy and mostly wasted into the land and air. And then what? Vegetables are harvested almost raw weeks before consumption, they are stored in refrigerators and then they are transported for thousands of kilometers to arrive on your table.
It is happening every day. Does it sound good to you? To us, no. So we decided to do something.
We aim to bring back food production close to the consumer. It used to be this way, but globalization changed everything. We promote local production and local consumption. We are lucky to live in a country (Switzerland) that has the chance to grow its own food (not completely exploited, however), but we recognize that not all the big cities or areas of the planet have this possibility. We are working on solving this problem. We are developing a solution that will enable everybody to grow his own food directly in the kitchen, basement or wherever you prefer. Imagine that near your fridge you have another closet containing and growing fresh and nutritious vegetables. Wouldn’t be fantastic? It may sound futuristic, but it could be a reality in a not so far future.
Remember that the first cars and the first refrigerators were considered too futuristic and without future. Look at them now.
The time for an update has come. We’ve been quite silent lately because… well, we were working…
I hear you saying “Ok, great… but working at what?”, along with other questions like:
Well, all excellent questions that I will try to answer with the next blog posts. Stay tuned!
Let’s start with the most asked question: how can I deposit $1M on your bank account? That’s easy, just contact us and we will arrange the transfer. But be quick, we have dozen people lined up waiting…
Jokes apart, if you are interested I will discuss our financing plans in one of the next posts.
The second most asked question is what we are currently working at. Let me give you a quick overview of our development plan. In short, we are developing devices to allow everyone to grow healthy vegetables at home. Yes, everyone, even you that don’t have the green thumb.
A bit of context. We are a team of inventors and we are doing what we like most: developing useful solutions to interesting problems. We spent the past two years working on proof of concepts and prototypes, testing materials, techniques and ideas. We focused our researches on hydroponic since it demonstrated the best way. We built dozens of electronic boards, wrote thousands of software code lines, changed our development platform a couple of times, sacrificed hundreds young shoots for the love of science. And now it is time for the results.
I’m glad to announce that the result of our endless working nights is coming. The first incarnation of our product will be in the form of a rugged hydroponic controller for DIY lovers. I don’t want to disclose too many details yet (so that I have material for another post), but be sure that it will revolutionize the way hydroponic aficionados operate their equipment. No more stupid timers! Welcome to the next generation.
We already have a working prototype and we are currently waiting to receive an upgraded version in a couple of weeks. After the due firmware modifications, we plan to start the beta testing phase with some selected partners (if you are interested, let us know). When we will completely satisfied of the performance and quality, we will release it.
From now on, I would like to share our journey with you, so I invite you to come back often and subscribe to our newsletter. And of course, the most important thing: share your thoughts and questions in the comments below. YOU are the reason of our work.