Ideally, we’d all be able to grow our own produce and have fresh food whenever we want it, but the unfortunate truth is that if you live in an urban area and don’t have your own patch of soil, cultivating a garden is easier said than done. Sure, you could always grow stuff in pots inside your house, but if you’ve got a limited amount of square footage to work with in your pad, growing more than a couple sprigs of lemongrass is pretty tough.
GlowCube, an upcoming contraption from NYC-based inventor Chris Beauvois, aims to remedy this problem. GrowCube is essentially a high-tech indoor garden box that doesn’t require any soil to grow plants. Instead, the system uses aeroponics – a process that’s similar to hydroponics, but doesn’t require water tubes. Instead, aeroponic gardens hydrate plants using a fine mist of nutrient-loaded water that’s gradually collected by the plant roots. Misting like this allows GrowCubes to use 95% less water than traditional farming methods, and also prevents over-watering.
Inside the enclosure, plants are suspended in the air on a rotating carousel, so when it’s filled with plants, it looks something like a rotisserie oven built for vegetarians. This wheel rotates the trays under a low power LED array that spits out specific wavelengths of light optimized for photosynthesis, thereby giving each plant just as much light as it needs without wasting tons of electricity.
Growing plants without soil or sunlight isn’t a new idea. Aeroponics systems have been around for decades, but what makes GrowCube particularly noteworthy is the fact that it takes this technique to the next level by adding some additional tech. Unlike most aeroponics setups, GrowCube’s interior chamber is pressurized to keep out bugs and airborne contaminants, and also makes use of a high-intensity UV lamp to kill off any fungi, bacteria, or parasites. That means no pesticides, fungicides, or treatments of any kind are needed to grow healthy plants.
On top of all that, GrowCube is also smart. As a software developer, Beauvois has spent the last three years integrating his contraption with software programs that can monitor the status of the plants. He’s even building an application that makes the whole process brainless for the end user. Once the whole thing is complete, users will be able to download the GrowRecipes app and input what foods they’re growing. The app will then tell the Cube exactly how to control the microclimate – everything from grow time, to light levels, to watering schedule – to ensure that your plants grow perfectly every time.
At just four feet by four feet, GrowCube is roughly the size of a dishwasher or range, meaning they could easily fit in most homes. Beavuois hopes this compact shape will make make indoor farming a possibility in densely-populated urban areas where square footage is scarce. You can’t get your hands on one just yet, but Beauvois has mentioned in interviews that he plans to launch a Kickstarter campaign for GrowCube as early as this summer.
For the time being, you can find out more information about GrowCube here.