connected systems: an acquisition center with pressure sensors, a smartphone application, and a web interface.

25th November 2015

Exhibition of PICORE with IRSTEA at the International Equipment and Expertise Exhibition for the Vine-Wine, Olive, Fruit-Vegetable Productions of Montpellier.


Placing the PICORE kit on the market by the German company SIKA.

Visualization of a treated plot - interface on smartphone

Picore interface on smartphone

Data control during spraying - interface on smartphone

Picore interface on smartphone

Creating a treatment- web interface

Picore web interface

What is "smart viticulture"?

Investing in viticulture is not easy. Although the technology is already there, thanks to the mechanization and the generalization of new tools and machines, the winegrowers remain users of the land, where the work of the ground persists and remains a privilege. The evocation of new digital tools with services on computer and smartphone sometimes triggers perplexed reactions or even a mistrust before adopting the tool.

The most complicated thing was learning to use a smartphone...

Lionel Delsol, winegrower

In this field, between the expertise of the winemaker, new technologies and the environment, the intactile DESIGN team accompanied by Vincent de Rudnicki, a research engineer from the IRSTEA in Montpellier, and the project holder for the SATT AxLR (technology transfer acceleration company).

The ambition of the PICORE device is not tiny, it aims to help the vine grower to reduce the quantities of plant protection products and thus limit their impact on the environment and health. Nowadays, winegrowers lack visibility on the actual use and dosage of their products at the time of spreading. By calculating the right dose and visualizing what is actually done on their plots, growers will be able to reduce the quantities used by 15 to 20% in the short term and to reach the targets set by the Ecophyto 2 plan in 2025.

They are given the opportunity to calculate the right quantity of products, to have a quality of processing and thus, ultimately, a reduction in the quantity of products used.

Vincent de Rudnicki, Research Engineer at IRSTEA

The device can also improve the traceability of treatments, because if their dangers are no longer to be proved, the use of plant protection products is controlled on the basis of what the vine grower declares. PICORE, by recording what is actually done on the plots, will allow the winemaker to have all the information in hand to show the quality of his applications and justify them objectively.

The aim of the project, from the design side, is therefore to create and develop with IRSTEA a system of coherent, simple and robust digital objects that leave the user a hand while saving time and quality in his work, without giving him the feeling of being watched or judged by a machine.

To each connected object, a dedicated use

When designing a system, it is necessary to clearly define what needs are to be answered for each of the concerned objects. The interactions that link them must be fluid, redundancies should be avoided. A user does not do the same thing on his computer while sitting during day time, as he does on his smartphone at night while driving a tractor.

Three elements constitute the PICORE device in order to obtain the most efficient user experience possible.

The web application allows the winegrower to prepare in advance the treatments according to the size of plots, products, the equipment and thus to monitor all the phytosanitary treatments of the operation.

The data acquisition unit (also called PicoreBOX) associated with the sensors on the sprayer is the technological part of PICORE, giving the "pulse" of the system at the time of spreading (speed, pressure, etc.).

The smartphone is the tool that initiates the acquisition of data and allows to monitor the good progress according to the recommendations made for the treatment.

Picore ecosystem functioning diagram

the winegrower prepares his treatments in advance on his web interface

the data is sent to the web server

During processing, the sensors and the data acquisition unit record processing data, while the smartphone interface allows to monitor / regulate the spreading in real time

the vine-grower visualizes the quality of his treatment on the plot

the acquired data is sent to the web interface

Winegrowers are present at each stage of the design cycle

Thinking closely with winemakers was not a strange approach to Vincent, and he naturally trusted to intactile DESIGN to do the project with our own observation methods followed by Co-design and testing sessions with winegrowers. This seems obvious, but keeping end users in the loop throughout the design is not always a well-respected process. Far from being obstacles, winegrowers are, by means of their profession, the guarantors of use, gestures, feelings on which the designer will be able to detect weak signals and identify the relevant elements to carry out a good design. Their experience in the field is therefore essential to the progress of the project.

Several winegrowers were met on their farms in Neffies, Alignan-du-Vent and Grabels (South of France), it was an opportunity to gather testimonies on their way of treating the vines, to observe their gestures with the material and products, and have a better understanding of their work context.

Observations of in situ use

Observations of in situ use

Spreading is a particular agricultural technique that remains dependent of weather conditions, specificities of the vineyard and the exploitation ground, safety and regulation that govern the use of plant protection products. The grafical interfaces must be imagined in this specific context and meet a certain number of business constraints in order to be really usable in the field.

The wine-growers were present from the first co-conception sessions, bringing ideas, constructive remarks on the proposals. It is therefore collectively by means of paper models, that we designed the interface of the smartphone and web application, making sure to distribute coherently the uses of winegrowers on both supports. Once the storyboards were validated, and the first developments were initiated, a first version of the system was tested in situ with the vine growers. This phase is crucial because it allows to validate or invalidate elements of the interfaces (size of the objects, understanding of the interactions, ...). Iteratively, software design and graphical design are therefore improved to make the system more robust.

Participatory design

Participatory design with winegrowers around paper models

Halfway through the project, a first test was carried out in an almost real-life situation to evaluate the user experience with the smartphone. However, for safety reasons, it was not possible to carry out this observation during the night with the presence of real phytosanitary products.

With the video, we were able to verify the appropriation of a first version of the tool by the winegrower, to identify its misunderstandings, to validate the main principles of use.

Video extracted from the behavioral study

Face to reality, the interface designed for the smartphone has evolved. Thanks to the observations we were able to improve the interface. For example, the size and layout of certain objects have been revised to be even more adapted to the dimensions of the winegrower’s fingers!

Graphical visualizations in accordance with the use and data

The PICORE system allows to recover a large number of data at the time of processing. To be readable by the user, they must use representations (shapes and colors) adapted to the needs and uses of the wine grower.

View and control an ongoing process

Acquisition view of smartphone

When the winemaker is in his tractor, he mainly controls the trajectory, the speed and the sprayer. Although he has prepared the right quantities of products in his tank, he risks under or over-dosing.

The smartphone acts as an extension of the dashboard. Several information is displayed: speed, flow, tank level, temperature, etc.

Color variations indicate a problem: material damage, deviations from the recommendations, etc. The winemaker is thus able to readjust parameters quickly during the treatment. For the sake of comfort, the acquisition screen uses turned down tints so that the winegrower is not dazzled as the task is often carried out at night.

Understanding what has been achieved

Acquisition view of smartphone

The winemaker gets the geolocalized route of what he actually did on his plot.

Each color corresponds to a level of dosage: green indicates that the right dosage has been applied, blue means that it has been under-dosed (the vine may be less protected than expected), the red alerts on the fact that the area received too much product.

The plot image is a good indicator of the carried out task. The vine-grower, according to his field, will more precisely identify the areas at risk and know where he can improve the treatment.

This visual result allows the winemaker to immediately have a qualitative return on his work, and will encourage him to improve his practice (to have the correct dose, to save products, to limit the impact on the environment, etc.). Thanks to the plot image, the winegrower will more precisely identify the risk areas of his plot.

Supervising plots and anticipating

The treatments are prepared in advance via the web interface, then archived there after processing. The application is really a management tool as it proposes the winegrower to see all its treatments which are carried out and all those ahead. The representation through timeline allows to have the history of the treatments of the plot, to better anticipate the persistence of the products and therefore the next treatments.

Timeline web

What is still to come…

After a year of development and testing with the first users, the PICORE Kit is expected to be launched in 2017 by the German company SIKA in charge of the selling.

The flexibility of the installation (removable and compatible with all types of equipment) and its relatively moderate cost (around 2500 €), will make the device very accessible to winegrowers.

The world of viticulture already talks about PICORE (La vigne, Paysan du Midi, France 3). The results and the impact on current methods of treatment are such that the device could be applied to other agricultural areas for which is used high doses of pesticides. To be continued…

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