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Supporting Delta Electronics’ New Experiments in the Development of Open Collaboration Products

・Support the startup approach to the development process and trials starting at Delta Electronics.
・Discover possibilities for expanding influence even though this is a niche market.
・Consider current manufacturing trends and what users want the most.

What is the 「foop」 Home Hydroponics Cultivation Machine?

The foop Smart Vegetable Garden, is an IoT computer terminal which uses a smartphone to perform home hydroponics cultivation. Its appearance is suitable to the interior of the home, and with facial expression icons showing the condition of the vegetables, its design allows the owner to not just cultivate their crops but enjoy living alongside them as well. Everyone from beginners to experts can have peace of mind in easily cultivating lettuce and herbs, enjoying a green, eco-friendly life.

foop works with smartphones, allowing the user to optimally cultivate their plants with a special application that constantly monitors the vegetables’ condition. Additionally, it connects with Facebook, making it possible to enjoy a new community through foop.

Web:foop - The Smart Vegetable Garden begins

Project process until foop is usable

Delta Electronics established the IoT Department in 2014, beginning new product development via a startup-style approach different from what had been done before. Targeting ordinary consumers, the 「foop」 Home Hydroponics Cultivation Machine was developed with a spirit of adventure as its motto.
Using a minimal amount of the Delta Corporation’s internal resources, outsourcing almost the entire process, Loftwork, FabCafe, and Bears Dance in the Hida Forest (HidaKuma) cooperated to support each process. Focusing on FabCafe, they implemented field research, ideation workshops, and product design. Lumber was supplied by HidaKuma as a material for making products. Loftwork was responsible for Web construction and content creation.

  • Support Details
    ・Prototype Field Testing
    ・Hypothetical Design and Testing via Ideation
    ・Product Design and Direction
    ・Supplying Lumber for Use in Products (Hida Lumber)
    ・Implementation of Special Application [[[UI]]] Design and Paper Prototyping Workshops
    ・Web Design/Content Creation

Listening to project members’ accounts of development

What are the new design processes being tackled by Delta Electronics?

ー Please tell us in detail how the foop project is unlike existing Delta Electronics design processes and how you sought direction for your earliest efforts on it.

Maverick (Delta Electronics):
Recently, we took up a startup-style approach toward product development and did our first, experimental trials. In all of our project processes, Delta’s internal resources were limited, and outsourcing was a major feature. Research, PR, product design, and even social content creation all used external resources, making this an independent project. It felt just like putting together a team to make a movie.

Delta Electronics Corporation General Manager IoT Project Development Department Hsieh Yun Ho (Maverick)

ー Why did you decide on the home hydroponics market?

Maverick:
Home hydroponics are popular, but the market is small. However, taking up the challenge of a niche, rather than major, topic is the epitome of the venture mindset, and we felt that a small can have a large influence. For example, home solar panels and electric cars were not thought of 10 or 20 years ago. Those ideas took decades to grow, but now they are achieving major success.

Meeting With FabCafe, And Seriously Starting The foop Project.

ー At the start of the project, why did you join up with FabCafe?

Maverick:
When we searched for consultants to cooperate on the project in the cafe and fashion industry, a friend introduced us to FabCafe. We talked about the concept behind foop, and Mr. Kawai quickly understood what we were looking for.

Loftwork Corporation FabCafe LLP COO Toshimasa Kawai

Kawai (Loftwork/FabCafe)
In order to investigate the response to foop, we first set up foop prototypes inside of FabCafe locations as field research. At first, people who visited their stores inside of cafes and galleries (broad strata of people) seemed to be interested in foop, but we understood that women had a particularly strong interest. Based on this, as the next step, Loftwork held an ideation workshop with women targeted to be the primary participants.

ー What happened at the workshop?

Kawai:
Ultimately, we performed ideation based on the concept of future home hydroponic cultivation without seeing the foop prototype. With “future” as our keyword, we broke down the questions of “How do people want to use hydroponics?” “How can they use it to match their homes?” and “How can we connect hydroponics to the internet?” one by one and dug deeply into these ideas.

“The Future Created by Hydroponics Cultivation + IoT” Ideation Workshop

Maverick:
At the workshop, a lot of ideas were created on the IoT technology side. We realized that we were seeking opportunities for stronger-than-expected communication with users.

Uploading new ideas. In the product design phase.

Based on the results of our field research and the ideas created at the workshop, we further polished up our prototype. FabCafe took charge of direction, product design was by by Hideo Kamihara of BARAKAN DESIGNfamous for, among other things,the Kadokeshi Eraser, and organizational design was performed by Techno Labo.

ー What were the major changes to the prototype after the workshop?

Kawai:
We completely recreated the design. The pre-workshop prototype was a cosmic-near future design which wasn’t really aimed at women. Mr. Kamihara proposed 3 types of design, and we chose the current round form out of those 3. Of course, using wood in the design was an idea that came out of the workshop.

The wood used as a material for making the foop is supplied through the cooperation of the Bears Dance in the Hida Forest Corporation (HidaKuma), located in Hida, Gifu.

Maverick:
Honestly, when I first heard the idea of using wood, I felt that it wouldn’t work. I thought that liking the wooden design was purely a Japanese thing, but actually, they decided to use it because they knew about Japanese people’s fastidiousness about wood and the high quality of Hida lumber. The reason the round design was chosen is that we thought that design was the most challenging. This is a result of the venture mindset and maximum preference for taking up new challenges which are at the root of the project.

Kawai:
Incidentally, I learned about the quality of the wood from Maverick, so, with the cooperation of the Hidakuma Corporation, which manages FabCafeHIDA in Hida, Gifu, we all had the chance to work with high-quality Japanese wood. Being aware of the wood’s quality affected us more than anything else.

From here on, our project was to design applications and Web sites. In constructing the applications, FabCafe was primarily responsible for leadership, and they held a UI design workshop using the paper prototype. Web content design and Web construction were Loftwork’s responsibility. Application and software development were performed by T2T, and icon design was primarily performed by BloombroomDesign, who, along with several external partners, linked up with the team and performed information design, content creation, design, and implementation.

Finally, the foop was completed. We listened to reactions after advance sales began.

ーWhat was the reaction after the product launched?

Maverick:
Advance sales began in April, and we sold 50 machines in the first few hours; the remaining 50 were sold over the next few days. We received orders for 50 machines in the first day, but 35 of those were ordered within the first hour. We even received enquiries from overseas. The French media began talking about foop as well, so our Website was accessed from France several thousand times during the second day. We even received some favorable reviews via SNS. The people at Delta were very surprised by this reaction.

ー That is an amazing response. How do you plan to develop the foop from now on?

Maverick:
First, we’ll safely ship out the 150 orders we’ve received (laughter). We will satisfy our 150 customers. Also, we want to do what we can for everyone across the world.

ー Finally, please provide hints on new team building acquired through the foop project for those taking up new craftsmanship challenges.

Maverick:
Lacking an environment for flat association, we cannot provide creative ideas. There were major differences between our work and what we wanted to do. Also, based on delivery date and cost preference, we made considering what users wanted the most our highest priority. Cost was secondary, and even though it was high, we felt we could purchase what we wanted. The foop project was certainly subsumed in this flow and constructed with the help of many partners and users, and we feel it is connected to its influence.

<Document Illustrations:Yu Aramaki