Home Gardening

Application for managing a hydroponic home garden.

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About the client

Hydroponic home garden system provider


Verdeat Home Garden is a producer and distributor of the Verdeat device – a hydroponic home garden.

The device allows for growing herbs and vegetables at home or other indoor venues throughout the year, providing conditions identical to the natural ones. The home garden significantly automates activities such as lighting and watering plants, thus eliminating the need to tend to the crops at all times.

The Verdict App mobile application enables remote control over the garden from any place as well as continuous supervision of the plants’ health. As a result, user interactions with the device are limited to periodic refills of water and nutrients. The Verdeat system allows the user to enjoy fresh crops of sprouts, vegetables, and herbs all year round with minimal effort.

Challenge

Ensuring stability, scalability, and communication

The previous (not our) version of the Verdeat App failed to provide stability, scalability, or communication with other system components.

The effectiveness of the Verdeat system is guaranteed by: the application, the hydroponic device, and servers ensuring communication. A standalone Verdeat garden would need constant tending. The mobile solution lets users remotely control the plants’ well-being. Push notifications inform about the need for direct interaction. Verdeat Home Garden wishes to let customers communicate with the device via the app. The previous system version didn’t ensure that. The system was unstable due to improper handling of server instances, thus causing communication and scalability limitations as well as problems with sign-ups and updates.

Verdeat Home Garden customers already had a different version of the Verdeat App as well as fully functioning Verdeat devices. This meant working with an existing user base – we had to transition the users between applications. We also had to implement the solution on operating devices without interruptions. Our tasks went far beyond tackling only the Verdeat App. Deviniti’s new goal was to ensure the application’s stability and scalability, including the ease of using the hydroponic gardens. We had to introduce changes to the entire Verdeat system and rewrite the application with appropriate technology.

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The main areas considered when designing the mobile application:

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Increasing the capability of the Verdeat system thanks to implementing more modern technology

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Ensuring application stability and scalability by providing smooth server management

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Improving the user-device communication regarding sign-ups, updates, etc.

Solution

Building a stable app and system improvements


Building the mobile application required an in-depth analysis of the client’s needs and experiences.

The critical factor here was that the client previously had a mobile solution. The company knew how the application and the Verdeat device should work in connection with each other. We conducted workshops where we collected client and user requirements. During project implementation, we also relied on designs provided by the client.

In the next step, we considered certain options to ensure stability and scalability of the Verdeat system through using appropriate technology and enhancing communication with servers. We also wanted to introduce single authentication to prevent users from signing up multiple times. Ultimately, we presented our suggestions which the client accepted.

We applied the following solutions to improve the Verdeat system:

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we used a cross-platform technology called Flutter which positively impacts the software quality while enabling efficient implementation of modifications

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we ensured application stability and communication between system components by switching the mode of exchanging data with the server to the WebSocket protocol

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we created an application for both iOS and Android platforms without visual differences using the Flutter cross-platform solution

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we provided support for more instances of hydroponic garden servers and introduced scalability by implementing a load balancer at the server level

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we formed an integration with Firebase Authentication, thanks to which users can create an account only once while the company’s website and mobile application use one authorization server

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we implemented social media and Apple ID sign-ins through Firebase Authentication

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we introduced a manual device reset function – you can reset the home garden with a button on it

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we designed the application with the colors and styles from the Verdeat Home Garden e-commerce store, so the users can navigate around the app with ease

How did we do it?

Enhancement and integration of system components


The team members worked on the mobile application server, home garden server, load balancer, and changes to the end device software. The Project Manager who supervised the endeavor also acted as a tester due to their matching interests and knowledge about this kind of software.

The project involved a team of 7 people

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3 Mobile Developers

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2 Back-end Developers

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1 Flutter Specialist

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1 Project Manager

Methodology


While implementing Verdeat Home Garden’s project, we applied an iterative approach. This allowed us to efficiently track task progress. We knew the project concept from the beginning (the entire idea was brought in by the client). That is why we could compose individual plans and sprints.

The client’s direct engagement was also of great importance. We invited Verdeat Home Garden representatives to our daily meetings, where they could review the progress and make suggestions about the application.

Platform


Chcieliśmy, aby aplikacja działała jednocześnie na kilku plWe wanted the application to run simultaneously on several mobile platforms without visual differences. That is why we used the Flutter cross-platform solution. It is currently the leading technology at Deviniti – we have a large team of mobile specialists working in Dart, Flutter’s programming language.

The advantage of this language is that we create one code, and then smoothly adapt it to Android and iOS platforms. We have extensive experience with the Flutter tool because we have worked with it almost from its beginning. Mobile applications developed with this solution are of high quality. Thanks to this, we could instantly implement the Verdeat App on both mobile platforms.

Technological stack

Flutter
Kotlin

Development


The work included five key system components: the mobile application, the mobile application server, the hydroponic device server, the load balancer, and the hydroponic device. The scope of the Verdeat system project was defined at the beginning, especially in the field of analysis and design (the client presented a ready-made UI and UX in the project’s initial stage).

The programmers worked iteratively; we also updated the client about the subsequent stages of the project implementation. Under this cooperation model, Deviniti and Verdeat Home Garden could regularly control the course of the project and the achievement of its goals.

Tests


With the use of Flutter technology, we could test two mobile application variants at the same time. After we finalized the tests, the application could function on Android and iOS systems. We conducted our tests in parallel with Verdeat Home Garden’s tasks; the company was performing the friends and family tests of the application. When we completed the testing stage and obtained customer approval, we proceeded to the implementation stage.

Implementation


Due to the existing user base, the implementation included several steps: 1. user migration and building a stable database; 2. software updates on running Verdeat devices (this was a challenging endeavor); 3. performing software tests on devices; 4. informing users about the update.

The application was delivered in August 2021. One of the delivery elements was a video showing the app’s operation. The original version didn’t have access to the iOS platform, so deploying to both platforms was a big step for Verdeat Home Garden. Currently, the solution is generally available on Google Play Store and the Apple Store.

Deviniti provides constant support to ensure the correct functioning of the Verdeat system.

How does the application work?

Plant growth process automation


With the Verdeat system, you can almost completely automate growing plants at home. The mobile application provides remote control over one or several Verdeat devices. You have the option of automatic operation and manual regulation of the home garden conditions.

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    Plant health control

    • informing about the water level in the device
    • sending push notifications when water needs to be refilled

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    Watering control

    • setting the number of waterings per day in the manual mode
    • setting the intensity of watering in the manual mode
    • silent mode (setting the period in which the plants aren’t watered) in the automatic mode

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    Lighting control

    • turning the lighting on and off in manual mode
    • lighting intensity setting in the manual mode
    • setting the lighting to turn on and off in the application in the automatic mode
    • setting the light sensor (reducing the light intensity when the device is in direct sunlight) in the automatic mode

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    Functions for configuration and support

    • e-mail contact with customer service via the application
    • removing a device from the application
    • device name change
    • signing in via social media and Apple ID

Results

Transparent app and reliable system

The application has met the assumptions regarding stability, scalability and convenience. Thanks to Flutter, we have increased the quality and transparency of the application. The app looks the same on Android and iOS. In addition, the Verdeat App resembles the website’s layout and graphics, thus becoming more intuitive.

We also introduced specific changes to the Verdeat system, such as a load balancer that can handle more server instances. It means distributing data from applications within the servers and preventing the latter from overloading. We applied the WebSocket protocol to simplify communication and identify errors faster. In addition, we implemented Firebase Authentication and manual reset. FA provides one-time sign-up, smooth account maintenance, and additional options of signing in. What is more, the user can reset the device with a button.

All in all, we successfully introduced stability, scalability, and convenience to the Verdeat system. The aforesaid task was demanding due to the imposed system functioning and existing user base. Deviniti rewrote the application and implemented changes to the Verdeat system, including updates to working devices. Verdeat Home Garden customers can finally enjoy a smoothly running system.

testimonials

What does our client say?

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The delivered application works flawlessly; Deviniti solved all the problems arising at the testing stage. They established efficient collaboration through a designated Project Manager who ensured that everyone was up to date. The design team proved their knowledge, skills and professionalism.
Małgorzata Śmigielska
Marketing & Sales Manager at Verdeat Home Garden

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Kara Herbut

Business Development Partner

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