[This is follow-up to part 1: Learning Environments.]
At Ostara this year, I was brainstorming with a group of friends over the idea of building a sensor network at Sunflower River. A system to collect real-time information on temperature, humidity, wind, soil moisture, and light level.
This kind of measurement is required to do the kind of analysis that Grow Biointensive does. I’m not aware of a more extensively researched growing method, with years of experimental data and the distilled lessons from that. I want to do something like this at Sunflower River To build a solid record of what is working for us and why.
More broadly, it helps make the invisible visible–it brings attention to factors that affect the farm that are difficult or impossible to measure.
From sensor networks, we began to talk about wireless Internet access over the entire farm. We have wireless access in the house, but at Ostara everyone was in the ritual ground, where the signal doesn’t reach.
Having wireless Internet access to every location on the farm would allow us to create an augmented reality environment for the farm. We could attach QR Codes to any object of interest, and a user with a suitable device (like an Android or iPhone) could read that code and be directed to a page on our website describing that object.
For a user with a suitable device, this would allow for detailed information about a subject to be transmitted in the context in which it is being used. If a WWOOFer needed help remembering how to care for our rabbits, that information could be looked up while the WWOOFer was standing at their hutches.
If you combine these two ideas, suddenly the farm is a very data rich environment. Not only could one look up material in the context where you need it, you could also look at the history of activity around that area, review sensor logs, even record your own data. Sunflower River would become an augmented reality environment.
I’m very excited by this idea. However, most of our WWOOFers do not show up with smart phones. If I’m going to go to the effort to attach QR Codes to everything in an effort to create an augmented reality environment, I haven’t helped most of the visitors to the farm. In a future post, I’ll discuss low-tech augmented reality: the deep information version of labeling our shovels.