Omtange was a startup project we developed during a course in entrepreneurship on my education.
By researching the industry of growing seaweed, we discovered the magnificent sustainable benefits of seaweed cultivation. Through more than 20+ interviews, we realized the industry was capable of upscaling, and thus multiplying the sustainable benefits of seaweed cultivation, but only if the consumer demand increased.
We came up with the idea that if kids learned about the benefits of seaweed and tried to cook food from it, they would eventually grow up to become conscious consumers of the product in the future. That is why we built Omtange, the school project of cultivating seaweed. On a later course, in Physical Computing, the growth kit got redesigned and further developed.
On this page, I will show the development of the project.
This is the growth kit, we built in the course physical computing. It was designed to be easy to handle for kids. Therefore, it had automatically timed lighting cycles, was cooling-regulated to the optimal growth temperature and had pumps to secure water circulation. All the kids had to do was add saltwater, seaweed, and fertilizer.
In the development of the prototype, I designed the system of actuators and sensors and programmed the microchip with micro-python to control the system most effectively. The control system was built through Node-RED and could be controlled from PC through WiFi.
Because we had the course during the Covid-19 pandemic, we had to build the prototype in the garage of one of my classmates. It was quite a learning experience as we had to be very creative about how we built it, and what components to use as we didn't have the luxury of the nice equipment at DTU at our disposal.
With our first prototype, we competed in an Innovation competition called the Green Challenge, which is the biggest Innovation competition at DTU. We didn't win but still managed to get fourth place overall. Among other tasks, I was responsible for pitching our project.
We cooked a pasta dish with seaweed together with a class of 6. graders and they loved it! Field studies are important research to validate the concept. The earlier in the developing process you test, the earlier you will learn about your project's viability and desirability and possibly save money in case your project is not the right fit.
Conceptual CAD drawings of the growth tank, made in SolidWorks. Nice renders of concepts are important communication tools. When presenting an idea I work by the philosophy - Show it! Don't tell it!
Early hand-drawn conceptualizations of what the tank could look like and how it could work, with its sensors. Both of the drawings were relatively quick drawings, but both of them are important for communication inside the team as they visualize how you think the tank should work. The tank is designed as a cylinder, to help with the circulation of the water.