With the onslaught of texts and emails that require immediate responses, it’s surprising that we manage to look up from our smartphones at all, let alone find the time to, say, water our plants. In a statement about our addiction to handheld devices, the designer Samuel Wilkinson has devised the Biome, a system for tending to a terrarium using one’s iPad.
Wilkinson isn’t suggesting that gardeners chop off their green thumbs and start monitoring their plants remotely. “This could either act as an introduction to non-green-fingered people who love gadgets, or just be a small garden for plants that need a very sensitive environment,” the London-based designer tells Co.Design. Biome’s still a prototype, but if developed into a finished product, the terrarium would be equipped with an app capable of regulating the water and nutrient levels via sensors and an atomized water mixture; light would be delivered by full-spectrum LEDs.
The project was conceived in response to an invitation to participate in Slow Tech, a recent exhibition exploring the importance of digital downtime. Wilkinson’s concept allows users to adapt their personal tech for the less immediate gratification of gardening, while also rewarding them for setting aside their gadget for a short period by acting as a charger that disables the device for anything other than the terrarium. “Over time,” he says, “you get a therapeutic reward for unconnecting for one or two hours a day.” And you gain some time to smell the proverbial roses.