Cultivating sustainable countertop agriculture
SproutsIO, Inc is a startup company with a vision for changing the way the world integrates food into their lives. The vision is rooted in the need to localize produce to provide healthy, flavorful and sustainable food into households in spite of growing urbanization trends. The SproutsIO appliance provides nutrients, water and UV light to a set of specialized pods that house the plant and its root system. This portable system is based on an aeroponic growing strategy that is uniquely clean and effective; a revolution in home and restaurant growing equipment.
SproutsIO approached SF with an initial proof-of-concept prototype that provided a functional foundation but lacked aesthetic refinement and production-level manufacturing strategies. SproutsIO requested SF to help mature their design towards a production viable, exciting product that achieves the vision and success of bringing fresh produce into households. The SF mechanical engineering team and industrial design team worked in parallel to help achieve the ideal user experience by refining the overall part break-up strategies, user touch points, ergonomics, ease-of-use and functionality.
The SproutsIO system’s success required conquering some unique manufacturability challenges.
As a premium product, it required high-quality, food safe materials with complex geometries to achieve the multiple states of growing conditions and user features. For this reason, injection-molded Tritan co-polymer was selected for many of the bowl and lamp stand housing systems. Many components applied unique mating strategies; joints that seal, slide and nest. The bowl system and its integrated sensors are designed to easily lift off the lamp base for cleaning; a challenge that SF met with the creative application of an unique electrical connector designed for water kettles. Further, the lamp head required the ability to modify its height to optimize UV light levels as the plant grows. To achieve this while enabling the organic form language, SF designed and coordinated the production manufacturing of a 30” long gooseneck system that leverages an insert-molded coil-based flex arm within an elastomer overmold.
In keeping with SF’s Smart product experience, SF helped SproutsIO integrate a variety of advanced sensor systems into a unique, removable sensor tower system with potted electronics for water-proofing. The sensor puck is installed with robust sealing strategies to allow ease of cleaning and product maintenance.
Sustainability was of paramount concern for this product. While the SproutsIO pods are a consumable product, they are also 100% compostable. SF helped identify materials and manufacturing processes for both the pod shell and the internal media that holds the seeds to make sure this system upholds responsibility to its environmental impact.
The system also represents a common complexity for new and innovative products: regulatory compliance in cross-over categories. UL has defined specifications for lamps and for agriculture appliances; but not necessarily for both. SF helped SproutsIO navigate the uncharted territory between these design standards and guided the project to successful electrical safety compliance.
Premium experiences require premium design; design that fearlessly tackles complex challenges with elegant, manufacturable solutions.
SproutsIO successfully launched their product in 2018 and have created a new market for premium growing systems. They continue to see momentum amongst a diverse client base of both home-growers and restauranteurs. Their mission to bring the value of taste back to the human experience through the beautiful and delicious production of heirloom ingredients has been met with enthusiasm and accolade.