Orbella Fragrant Moss

Bioengineered aromatic moss in an adorable terrarium

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5 Reviews2.0/5
Hi, Antony from the Orbella Team here. Orbella is the first of a new era of consumer biotechnology products, we like to joke that Organisms are the New Apps though of course engineering a living cell is still much harder than engineering an iPhone app – though it’s getting exponentially easier. Orbella has been engineered to make and emit fragrances from an attractive terrarium directly in your home using photosynthesis. This delivers a safer, cleaner, greener alternative to chemical-based air fresheners because there’s no need for solvents to dissolve the fragrance in before it reaches your home. Future versions are planned to remove toxins like benzene, formaldehyde and chloroform from your home. This is our second attempt at a bioengineered consumer product, we have been struggling for over four years to make a Glowing Plant and were in the first batch of biotech companies funded by Y Combinator. Orbella, while still version 1.0, is finally working which is a tremendous relief as you can imagine after what feels like four years banging our heads against a brick wall. We’ve got three flavors working, and so you can try it we’d like to offer 20% off with Discount Code ‘PRODUCTHUNT’. I believe that biology is the ultimate sustainable technology, nature uses sunlight, CO2 and water to create useful products creating only biodegradable waste. Guided by nature, we harness that power to create living “apps” that reduce waste and tread lightly on the earth. We hope that our products positively change the public’s perception of GMOs and inspire a new generation of bioengineers to create a greener future for us all. Happy to talk more about the science and technology behind this or discuss some of the ethical, legal or regulatory questions that come from working in this space in the comments - we'll be answering them once it's morning in California. Looking forward to hearing what you think.
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@orbellamoss So... big question... how long does it last? I've done a ton of experiments with moss, have research it and sold both living and persevered moss and lichen walls to a number of startups, tech companies, agencies, and media outlets in NYC and LA. But in my experience, in an open terrarium like that... it can be tough to keep it going for 6+ months inside. Especially in an open terrarium like that, which looks like an off the shelf product.
@orbellamoss *researched.... d'oh
@orbellamoss @gooderdle Well that is of cause a very good question. Like any other houseplant you have to water it. Plants do need some water ones a week, and we do recommend that you take good care of it. How much water depends on the humidity in your home, but keep it a little moist and you have a happy moss for a long time. Mosses on walls are much more tricky especially inside rooms with aircondition, and never really works on walls outside facing south and west, so you cannot compare that directly. Mosses like it moist. One point though, should it dry out, one should be able to re-moist it and it should go green again. That is at least how many botanical collections preserve mosses.
@mosspirationbio but most homes in non-tropical places do not have the humidity necessary to sustain moss. Moss is also non-vascular, so there is no real system to transport the water from the rocks to the moss. The water should settle in the rocks fairly quickly since most people use rocks with indoor plants to contain excess water. I'm just kind of confused as to why there is no timeline for the moss' survival or better container for it to ensure it will survive longer. In your trials do they last longer than 6 months in that container with weekly watering? Your answer didn't seem to really answer it.
@orbellamoss is it fragrant only in near proximity of the terrarium, or something that spreads around the room? For example, to smell roses you have to get really close to them to smell them. Is it something like that or more like incense that spreads?
This is a really ground breaking and innovative idea.
I was at Orbella's launch event; the moss both looks really cool and smells great. Also, the padding in the box is made out of mushroom, which is fascinating on its own right.
@pj_costello Yes, we are using a grown material for the packaging. Our partner takes waste cellulose (eg wood chips) and adds mushroom spores to it. Three weeks later our packaging comes back in the shape of the mold. Once you are done with it you can put it in your garden and compost it, leaving no eco-footprint.
@pj_costello Great that you joined the event.
So this is a real biological plant whose DNA you engineered, which has fragrances emitting from it? What other products can be replaced with bioengineered plants? What do you hope to learn from this launch towards future development? Very exciting!!! Congrats!!!
@michelle_salomon Yes this a genetically engineered plant. It is fragrant and very pleasant. This idea is to replace ALL fragrance products for homes, cars etc. We are not there yet, but we will get there. But other products? I think the list is endless, but hanising CO2, water and sunlight provides and unlimited source. One product in development is the glowing plants, but that is only one of many. With this launch we will learn about the market potential and we hope to change the perception of GMO. That GMO will provide pleasant, useful, sustainable and green solutions to everyone's everyday life.
I'd love to try this but $79 is a bit pricey for me, tbh.
@rrhoover Thanks for the feedback. Currently the main reason for that price is the cost of producing the moss as we are still at lab scale, if we can move to production scale (ie 10 litre or bigger bioreactors rather than 1 litre) our costs should drop a great deal, probably by nearly an order of magnitude. Also note the 'Producthunt' discount code if you saw that...
@orbellamoss ahh! I missed the 20% discount. Thanks, Antony!