A service product that fosters delight in urban horticulture through playful interaction.


Urbbi is a product-service that helps people take care of the plants in their home and encourages learning in how to grow their own. Whether it be food, herbs or ornamentals, the Urbbi system allows people to keep their plants alive by creating a direct connection between the plants needs and the tools we already use everyday to prioritise and plan our busy lives.

The Urbbi-box is a simple sensor box that monitors the light falling in the area around it and the moisture in whatever soil you’ve placed the supplied moisture sensor. The information is directly shown on the face of the Urbbi sensor box but also sent wirelessly to a web service which allows you to view the status of your Urbbi on the go!

The web service allows you to see the status of your plants along with the history of when and how much you watered, how much light fell on your plants on any given day and the ability to dive deeper to see the ‘rhythm’ of your plants visualised as simple, easy to understand charts & graphs.

The emphasis is to help people learn the causes and effects of their lifestyles on that of their plants and aims to help them answer questions like: When did I last water? Did I water enough? Is it over-watered or under-watered? Is the light in this spot in my house good for growing, for example, Basil? Is the light better for Thyme?

Answers come slowly and through time as Urbbi starts to understand and learn about your lifestyle. Tools allow you to add reminders into your existing web services (Google Calendar, Twitter, etc), get suggestions from Urbbi for what to grow (and where) and scale up to grow an even wider variety of plants by obtaining additional moisture sensors and viewing them all through one, clean, online interface.

Building on top of the knowledge & learning service, Urbbi incorporates a community connection which allows a user to simply take a picture of your plants (or anything you want) and add a comment or question as a caption. This connection between Urbbi users will foster a community of support to help answer any mysterious questions that come up in growing different plants. Why are my leaves dry? What are these black spots? This simple interaction between people using Urbbi provides the basis for peer-to-peer learning and expands greatly the possibilities of the service to inspire and teach.

Urbbi is an ongoing project by Mac Oosthuizen. Mac is particularly interested in people’s relationship with the living things in their homes, especially the conflicts of caring for them in an expanding, dynamic, ‘metro-natural’ environment.

For more on Metro-Nature visit: http://metronature.emeasee.com
For more on Mac Oosthuizen & Urbbi visit: http://www.emeasee.com