How could digital technology be mobilized to share information about urban gardening? The Mobile Experience Lab brought together a team of researchers to answer this question in 2013. The result: SeedMate, a puzzle card game that is linked with an augmented reality app. The researchers spent a month conducting an ethnographic study of urban gardening in Italy, and then decided to focus the game on two important aspects of the gardening techniques they observed: companion planting and sunlight requirements. Designed in collaboration with the Italian national broadcasting company RAI, Seedmate is played atop a plot of soil as the game board, with a set of biodegradable seed cards. Despite requiring access to the physical board game in order to take advantage of the mobile app (vice versa), the physical components of Seedmate can be used to plant a garden with the configuration they craft thereafter. The augmented reality app allows users to see whether two of the plant cards are “seedmates” (a match). Once their compatibility is revealed, players must cast the proper amount of shadow with their smartphone to plant the cards next to one another. Seedmate’s creators hope to bridge the digital divide between localized tricks of the trade and the public.


Aesthetic/Leisure, Immersive Technology, Industry/Natural Commodities, Internet of Things, Psychology