The Problem
The greenhouse monitoring system is primarily responsible for monitoring the trends of indoor and outdoor temperatures, humidity, and light as well as alerting users when an issue arises.  The current interface loads sensor readings from a database and displays these values as trends over time on a single graph. Showing several trends, each of which has a different scale, on the same graph can make readability of values and trends difficult. Furthermore, the current interface shows one type of alert on the same graph.  
 
In order to optimize greenhouse operations, there is a need for the redesign of the online user interface to make use easier for commercial greenhouse operators. The current system is limited by its overall visual aesthetic and readability that affects the user’s ability to easily extract pertinent information.  Additionally, the current implementation of alerts provides minimal information on the issue as well as its priority.

 
 
 
Objective
Design a web application to improve readability of pertinent data and current state of the greenhouse.  Our subobjectives include:
- Allow users to quickly identify and interpret important trends, issues, and/or information
- Create an informative alert management system that provides detailed information to the user on the type of alert and its criticality to the overall system

 
 
 
 
Brainstorming
The following sketches are from our preliminary brainstorming session. Although our final design was guided by these sketches, there were changes made as a result of new ideas for design as well as feedback from the design review conducted with our classmates.  
 
Login Screen
Current State Page
Trends Page
Alert Pop-Up
Design
Current State
       Upon logging in to the Greenhouse monitor on a web browser, a user would be able to view the current state. On the top portion of current state page, the exact temperature, humidity, and light in the greenhouse are shown in text form as well as on visual displays so a user can view where this temperature falls within the set range. The consistency of vertical data displays (bottom to top reading) of temperature, humidity, and light should make it easier for users to read and interpret the data and the colocation of reading marks and numbers are included for increased interpretability. Furthermore, the ranges displayed on each gauge allow users to quickly assess where the current temperature lies within the set range. In addition to labels for each gauge, each has a particular color that relates to the real-life representation of the measured value (i.e. red--thermometer/heat, blue--water, yellow--light) in order to further aid a user in determining which meter is being read. The set range for each of the gauges is shown by the green lines, a color chosen because of its contrast with each of the gauge colors.
 
       On the bottom portion of the page, the alerts are displayed. By default, alerts from the past two days are shown, sorted from high to low priority. However, users are also able to filter the alerts by priority, type, and time period as well as sort the alerts by type or date/time. This functionality is included in order to assist users in finding alerts they are looking for. Once an alert/problem within that time range is resolved,it still remains under alerts but is faded grey, so the user can focus on the non-resolved (non-shaded) alerts above. Furthermore, a scrollbar is included in case all of the alerts cannot fit into that area. Further information on resolving alerts is included on the next page. Lastly, tabs on the top bar are included for easy navigation between viewing the current state, the trends over time, and the overall settings for the interface. 
 
 
Alert Pop-Up
       The above screenshot is of the pop-up for alerts. If there is an unresolved problem/alert upon logging in, an alert box such as this will show. Otherwise, a user can click the alert from the table and further information will show up in this box. The alert box shows the type of alert (Low Temperature, High Humidity, etc.), a more detailed description of the problem, and a feedback box that the user can use to provide information on how the alert is resolved. The user can resolve the error after making adjustments by checking the “Resolved” box and clicking “OK.” The “OK” button can also be clicked without confirming resolved. By default, the user will only see the Alert Type, Description, Feedback box, and the Resolved checkbox when the pop-up appears. However, the user can click on “View Past Alerts/Resolutions of this Type,” for a table to appear of similar past alerts and how they were resolved. This element was included so that it could aid a user in resolving the alert, and potentially increase performance time. The “X” allows users to exit the pop-up if necessary. If an alert is closed without being resolved, it will remain in the alerts section and keep appearing every “x” minutes until resolved to remind the user. 
       The trends page can be navigated to by using the tabs on the top of the page. The trends panel shows temperature, humidity, and light readings plotted as a function of time. Having each graph aligned on top of each other allows a user to compare trends, yet having each on a different graph allows each to be displayed on the correct scale (ie degrees, percentage, etc.). Each graph is labeled with an icon representative of the data that the graph displays. These icons, along with the different scales of the graphs, allow the user to more easily identify the data being read. The blue line on each graph is the current reading of that value, the green line is the set point, and the shaded grey area is the set range. These different lines are included so a user can view the fluctuations of the true values in comparison to the set values. This range is displayed by the grey lines so that a user can note when the reading is nearing or exiting the designated range. These set points and set ranges can be set in the “Settings” tab. Areas in which the line is red, a color indicative of temperature/heat, on the temperature line indicates that the heater was on during that period of time. Each graph shows a legend for the user to reinforce what each of the lines mean. For temperature, a checkbox is included so a user can choose to view outdoor temperature on the same graph as the indoor temperature. Allowing a user to choose whether or not to view this information will prevent unnecessary information from being shown to the user and/or clutter on the screen.
 
       The trends will display two days by default. However, the user can select a date range at the bottom of the page to view the time period of their liking. The user can also export the data by selecting the desired date range and clicking on “Download.” This functionality is included to allow users to conduct further analysis. Furthermore, the magnifying glass on the right bottom corner allows the user to zoom into the trends to see a more detail and a scrollbar was included for users to be able to move through the data displayed over time. 
 
Greenhouse Monitoring System
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Greenhouse Monitoring System

Redesigning a greenhouse online visualization system for better and easier usage by commercial greenhouse operators.
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102
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Published:

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