Grand Designs Live: NASA-approved smart plant pots and tech made of bamboo

Check out the home tech of the future, this weekend

Grand Designs Live is still running at London's Excel, with the last day being this Sunday. As well as an assortment of wireless audio and lighting exhibitors, there are a few smart home leaders (iRobot, makers of the Roomba and the self-explanitorily named Juicepresso).

Not least because, judging by our chat with him, Kevin knows next to nothing about smart home tech, the show is more focussed on the sort of bigger home projects that we see on Grand Designs, the TV show: home cinemas, bathroom renovations and entire houses, carved out of rock faces in Wiltshire by unbearably smug couples from north London. That sort of thing.

• These are our favourite smart home gadgets

• Or how aboutsome smart bulbs… orintelligent thermostats?

"I'd like to live in a home where it senses you're approaching, and unlocks the door and turns on the lights," Kevin tells us. In point of fact, technology exists to do that already, though it is admittedly a little clonky and involves using multiple apps and wireless standards.

Kevin's more interested in loftier goals: intelligent heating and cooling systems for buildings; things that can have a real impact on people's health and well-being, above and beyond being able to turn your lighting blue via Siri.

AIRY monsters

That's why another major element of Grand Designs Live is Kevin's Green Heroes, which features the AIRY GreenTech plant pot.

This next-gen vegetation holder has already raised over £100,000 on Kickstarter and received a Red Dot design award. That's because it acts rather like the Dyson air purifier, but for less money, and in plant form.

How? We all know that plants remove pollution and convert CO2 to oxygen. However, the AIRY's German makers claim: 'The NASA discovered: This is happening up to 90% via the roots of plants. AIRY is the first plant pot to ventilate the root system. As a result, plants that grow in an AIRY pot can absorb pollutants up to 8 times as much as in conventional plant pots.'

And who are we to argue with that? It's not the leaves that do the bulk of the air-purification work, it's the roots. Sohere, air is pulled in through ventilation holes to maximise the effectiveness of the air-purifying roots of your houseplants.

Even if that turns out to be bollocks, the fact that AIRY is an attractive pot with a 2.4-litre water reservoir, so watering is a less frequent chore, makes it worth a look for lazy home gardeners such as ourselves.

House of bamboo

Also at Grand Designs Live is the Bamboo Bicycle Club. Here's Kevin goofin' around on one of their wood-based steeds.

As well as showing off its bikes, the artisan brand will be running 'bamboo accessory workshops', where you will be shown how to make bamboo light fittings and accoustic phone speakers, such as this one.

If you catch the bamboo building bug, you might then want to move on to one of the east London artisan workshop's bicycles - every type of bicycle can be made from this ultra-versatile, super-eco-friendly material, from mountain to road, from hybrid to fat bikes, and more.

And there's more

There are umpteen other brands at GDL, from the mighty likes of Lexus to the decidedly offbeat. Our favourite, if only for its name is the Dirk Vander Kooij Fresnel Light, which is made from recycled CD cases - at last, somebody found a use for them in the Spotify age - and looks like a steam-punk flying saucer.

Grand Designs Live is at London's Excel until Sunday, tickets start at £16.70

Duncan Bell

Duncan is the former lifestyle editor of T3 and has been writing about tech for almost 15 years. He has covered everything from smartphones to headphones, TV to AC and air fryers to the movies of James Bond and obscure anime. His current brief is everything to do with the home and kitchen, which is good because he is an excellent cook, if he says so himself. He also covers cycling and ebikes – like over-using italics, this is another passion of his. In his long and varied lifestyle-tech career he is one of the few people to have been a fitness editor despite being unfit and a cars editor for not one but two websites, despite being unable to drive. He also has about 400 vacuum cleaners, and is possibly the UK's leading expert on cordless vacuum cleaners, despite being decidedly messy. A cricket fan for over 30 years, he also recently become T3's cricket editor, writing about how to stream obscure T20 tournaments, and turning out some typically no-nonsense opinions on the world's top teams and players.

Before T3, Duncan was a music and film reviewer, worked for a magazine about gambling that employed a surprisingly large number of convicted criminals, and then a magazine called Bizarre that was essentially like a cross between Reddit and DeviantArt, before the invention of the internet. There was also a lengthy period where he essentially wrote all of T3 magazine every month for about 3 years. 

A broadcaster, raconteur and public speaker, Duncan used to be on telly loads, but an unfortunate incident put a stop to that, so he now largely contents himself with telling people, "I used to be on the TV, you know."