DeepForest is a data processing solution for the responsible management of natural forest resources. It is part of a larger technology project led by the CEA, Sunbirds and CIRAD. As a result of this project, Sunbirds has access to algorithms capable of identifying tree species from the sky.

Y.SPOT accompanies Sunbirds in the adoption of this technological brick offering a "go-to-market" approach. By sounding out the needs of forestry operators and relying on the market expertise of the CEA, the Y.SPOT team is designing a remote sensing drone service and data analysis to assist in the inventory of commercial tree species.

The problem

With the end of “iDROP”, Sunbirds' second project with the CEA approaching, the company has autonomous solar drones and an AI capable of identifying four different species of tropical trees, but no reliable way to market its solution.

Y.SPOT's designers are assisting Sunbirds in the design of a web service, business model and functional demonstrator in order to commercialise its technological solution.

Photo: Sunbirds

My role

I joined the project with my tutor to work on the webservice Sunbirds would provide what features would be included in the clients' interface. I worked mainly on the MVP of the website, in trio with my tutor and Sunbirds' CEO. I had some insights gathered from Congoleses forestry companies and could get some feedbacks from Sunbirds, the development team or botanists from the CIRAD. I was the only UI designer on this project, but we frequently discussed my prototype with my tutor.

The process

From drone building to forest mapping

Our first task was to design a way for this technological solution iDROP to be economically viable. We had to find a business model and to think about a software architecture with the technical team for the DeepForest service. We have therefore explored several fields of application in which to use iDROP technology. The company decided to focus on the optimisation of logging inventories in Central Africa.

Sunbirds offers a complete inventory service from the acquisition of images by drone to the delivery of the results of their processing by iDROP. In this value proposition, Sunbirds is in charge and control of the whole process, only they have no direct and secure way to transmit the results to their clients.

As the only UX designer involved in the project, I was in charge of designing the web application for the service's customers with the following brief :

Designing a prototype web application to assist in the planning of tropical timber operations in Central Africa.

Start quick and dirty

As I had very few resources, I focused on the main features that would help users to understand and work with the datas provided by the service, first on paper.

Then I explored several types of information and content architecture. The aim was to make as few requests as possible and to try to avoid loading unnecessary data as potential customers might have poor internet speed.

The decision concerning these parts were discussed and made with the project team including Sunbirds' CEO, and the developers.

Building the application

After focusing on the dashboard, where users access data from a single inventory, I was able to work on the organisation of the different inventories and the navigation within the application.

Once the userflow and screens were complete, I was able to clean up my files, prepare the components and deliver everything to the developers.

I then followed the development to make sure that the deliverables were correct and that the design was respected.

The final product

After connecting to their profile, users can find all the inventories they ordered from Sunbirds.

When they open one, they access the dashboard from which they can consult the data from the Deepforest service. The panel on the left is used to filter and display the identified trees on the map.

Users can also select a portion of the map to study in more detail. The drawing on the map then acts as a filter on the left-hand panel, which switches to "Selected Area" mode, allowing users to toggle between the global view and the selected view.

Users can also display the same data in different charts. A way for them to visualise the resources of their forestry operation in a different way.


Unfortunately, the project did not see the light of day, as Sunbirds went bankrupt before it could be realised. I regret that the project could not be continued and that we could not test it in reality to improve it.

Overall, the project lacked the projection into use and the means to go further in the design process.

Nevertheless, the project has been documented and is available here. It has also become a symbolic project for CEA Tech Occitanie and is displayed in its showroom in Toulouse, France. It was also an excellent learning ground for me as I had a lot of responsibility and was able to interact with all the actors of the project.