In November, California voted yes on Proposition 64 allowing everyone older than 21 to grow up to six marijuana plants in their home. However, growing marijuana plants indoors has many variables, and can be a complicated process to learn.
In an effort to make growing a possibility for everyone, five Cal Poly students are creating a device that streamlines the growing process and educates the user on how to grow effectively.
Business administration junior Andrew Kamegawa, along with business administration sophomore Rees Bayba, business administration freshman Lysander Mahilum, computer science junior Alexa Drenick and industrial technology senior Kevin Yae, developed an automated growing system they named Grow Nodes.
The device is paired with an app that lets the user know when to care for the plant.
“The app provides you with the educational experience and the instant connection to stats,” Kamegawa said. “The node — the actual hardware — has automated controls that automatically water your plant, control the lights and all that.”
The app starts off with video tutorials about how to set up Grow Nodes and the plant. The app notifies users when the plant needs to be taken care of, such as pruning and refilling the water, nutrients, and pH dose. Each step comes with video tutorials to ensure proper care of the plant.
Yea handles the software side of Grow Nodes and said the technology involved in Grow Nodes is fairly new which presents some challenges.
“A lot of things there’s no established procedures for,” said Yea. “You kind of have to see what the other cutting-edge companies are doing and kind of copy them.”
Kamegawa said he hopes to break down some of the barriers to growing indoors by making it as automated as possible and prevent common mistakes like overwatering and not having enough light.
“You don’t have to know how to grow before you grow,” Kamegawa said.
Grow Nodes is not only a unique product, but, according to Kamegawa, their outreach efforts also make this product stand out.
“We’re planning on documenting our grow process this summer,” Kamegawa said. “We’re letting the customers know that we have them in mind more than ourselves.”
Currently, the team is on their third iteration of Grow Nodes. But because it takes about three months for a plant to grow and yield, progress is sometimes slow.
“We’re going to be working on development over summer and beta testing will go on until next December,” Kamegawa said. “Hopefully it will be available next summer for purchase.”
Kamegawa and Yea both plan to continue their work on Grow Nodes after graduation.
“Our vision is to be able to get our product designed and be able to test it with at least 50 people,” said Yea. “Since we have data and sensors that we can monitor remotely, we can keep improving our product as more people buy them and use them.”