May 29, 2012
Your Plants Are Now Wi-Fi Accessible
Houseplants and patio gardens alike can bring an element of natural beauty to any living space. The tricky part, however, is keeping these plants alive, especially if you live in a climate notorious for killer summers. Now, a new sensor and iOS app have arrived to save these plants and bring harmony between plants and their owners.
Enter the Koubachi Wi-Fi plant sensor. Working in tandem with the Koubachi iOS app, the sensor provides real-time data about the plant´s soil and living conditions, such as water levels, sun and shade conditions, and whether or not the plant needs to be fertilized.
The makers of Koubachi are attempting to bridge the communication barrier betwixt plants and owners.
“There´s very little information when you buy a plant,” said Koubachi CEO Phillip Bolliger to Reuters.
“Most of the time there´s a little sticker that will say it needs a medium amount of light and water every few days. But that´s very rough and doesn´t apply for most plants.”
Not only can the Wi-Fi sensor send information to your iOS app, but the data it collects is also available on the web.
According to Bolliger, monitoring the water levels of plants is the most important aspect in maintaining a healthy, happy plant.
“The problem people run into most often is that they give too much water – that´s the main cause of killing plants.”
The iOS app contains important data about more than 135 species of plants and can be used to create customized care for any of these plants. To gather and compile this data, the app developers worked together with plant physiologists at ETH Zurich, the Swiss Institute of Technology. Users can tell the app and web service what kind of plants they own, and the app will then create notifications telling you when to water and when to feed. The app also takes into consideration aspects such as location data and climate zones as well as changes in the climate and seasons. Users can access this information and create profiles for their plants without purchasing the Wi-Fi sensor, though Bolliger suggests the information will be much more accurate when paired with it.
“We run different experiments with a lot of different plant types in the greenhouse,” said Bolliger. “We have our experts assess the vitality of the plant. Then we verify our models given the actual expert analysis of the plant´s vitality.”
The sensors are available exclusively through the Koubachi website and cost $156. Bolliger says, however, that it is not necessary to purchase a sensor for every plant. The sensors have a multi-plant feature which can be used in areas such as gardens where more than one plant live. With the multi-plant feature turned on, the sensor will begin to learn the specifics of each plant within a few weeks and will then be able to tailor the notifications given for each specific plant.
According to Reuters, the sensor took three years to develop and can run for more than a year on a single set of batteries.
“It kind of resembles a stone that is in the plant,” Bolliger said.