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Plant Link sends you a text message when the plants need water

plant link

Landing nearly $100,000 through a successful Kickstarter campaign that closed earlier today, a group called Oso Technologies will be manufacturing a device that helps people keep their indoor and outdoor plants alive and thriving. Called the Plant Link, the white cylindrical device is inserted into the soil next to your plant. After the user assigns the device to a specific type of plant through the Plant Link site, the device will have a measurement standard in place to constantly judge the amount of water in the soil. Over time, the Plant Link will be able to use that information to make adjustments to the watering schedule. 

plant link textIf there are multiple plants in a household, the user can connect all of the devices to a single base station. The base station connects to the router within the home and the information about the water levels are sent to the cloud. Users can access the soil data through the Web or receive updates about their plants over email, text messages or push notifications on a mobile device. 

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In addition to the Plant Link and base station, Oso Technologies has also developed a device called the Smart Valve. Designed for outdoor use, the valve connects to a home’s water source as well as the hose that’s connected to the sprinkler. Using information from the Plant Link, the Smart Valve regulates the flow of water to the sprinkler automatically based off the water levels in the soil. 

According to the Kickstarter page, the Plant Link device measures water levels within the soil every five to ten minutes and utilizes a common algorithm used within the agriculture community to analyze the soil.

plant link watering

The software also takes the type of soil into account when calculating the need for more water. The watering schedule is automatically updated after each reading and the schedule is also altered for outdoor plants when specific types of inclement weather are active in the area.

Regarding specific plants, Oso Technologies plans to curate the plant database and add new plants as needed by users. The Plant Link device can be positioned up to the length of a football field away from the base station, potentially ideal for small commercial areas in addition to a standard household. Hypothetically, this device could help businesses save money on the cost of watering landscaping or perhaps completely automate the watering process at a plant nursery. 

Oso Technologies plans to manufacture the device in the central Illinois area and the group currently has prototypes that are ready for the manufacturing stage of development. Beyond the closed round of Kickstarter funding, the group hasn’t created a page yet that will allow a consumer to order the Plant Link device. Assuming the manufacturing schedule stays on track, Oso Technologies plans to deliver the first batch of the Plant Link device into the hands of backers by June 2013. The prices range from $99 for the basic package with the base station and three Plant Link devices up to $149 for the basic system along with one Smart Valve. It’s likely that Oso Technologies will sell the various components separately as well.

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‘Lono’ lets you water your lawn from an iPhone
lono sprinkler offers smartphone access to a homes irrigation system controller

Detailed extensively on a Kickstarter project page, the Lono sprinkler controller allows homeowners to connect their yard's irrigation system to an application on a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet. Designed to streamline of the process of watering grass and surrounding plant life, Lono users can turn specific sprinkler zones on and off with a single tap on their mobile device. Users can also adjust the amount of water that's distributed to specific zones, ideal when one area of a yard is exposed to sunlight for a longer period of time than other areas during the day.
Estimating water savings up to 70 percent in some cases, Lono users can also remotely halt all watering if it's currently raining throughout the day. By tapping the "Snooze" button within the Lono app, the system will be automatically paused for 24 hours. Lono also offers the ability to use a third party sensor in case the user wants to automate rain detection.
On top of that, there's an additional option that searches for weather forecast information from the local broadcast station. If the local weather station indicates rain in the forecast, the system will automatically snooze. This is an optional setting and can be turned off with the local weather station isn't considered reliable by the homeowner.
Interestingly, the user doesn't have to bother with scheduling watering times. After setting a period of time that's approved for watering, the Lono will automatically schedule the appropriate watering times for each zone. The Lono also utilizes "evapotranspiration data," information about plant life in the area, to modify watering behavior. For instance, specific types of soil may be resistant to constant watering, thus the Lono will segment watering times based on soil absorption rates.
In order to install the Lono, the user first has to connect the device to a standard power outlet as well as the wiring to zones on their current controller for the irrigation system. After linking the Lono to the home's Wi-Fi network, users can name up to 20 different zones. If a home has more than 20 zones, multiple Lono devices can be connected and controlled within a single app. Regarding software updates, the Lono will automatically connect to the manufacturer to download firmware updates. In addition, the Lono software can be set for odd/even watering restrictions if the user lives in a city with specific laws related to irrigation.
While the Lono will eventually retail for $199, early backers can invest in the device for $149 or less depending on the available funding options. While the funding goal is set at $75,000, benchmark goal rewards include a LED readout on the device, an Android version of the mobile app, admin functions for contractors and a mobile version of the site. For the moment, the device will only ship with iOS support. The creators of the Lono expect to ship the completed device to early backers by March 2014. As with all Kickstarter or Indiegogo projects, be aware that manufacturing issues often push back the delivery date of the product by weeks or even months.

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Need to water your lawn? The Raincloud has already taken care of it for you
cultivar raincloud raspberry pi watering system 2

Plants and flowers can make the inside and outside of your home not only aesthetically pleasing, but they can improve the environment, too. That is if you remember to water them. Plenty of flora have died at our hands simply because we’re either forgetful or too lazy to bother. But a new affordable automated watering system called the Cultivar RainCloud could not only make watering a manual labor of the past, but also possibly transforming the way we eat. 
The Cultivar RainCloud components.
The RainCloud watering system consists of a Raspberry Pi computer equipped with Wi-Fi. Running on batteries or solar power, the RainCloud regulates the water flowing through a 3/4-inch garden hose. A soil sensor that measures the ground conditions lets the RainCloud know when to start watering – when it's wet enough, the system turns off the water, helping to save water. The user controls and monitors the system using Web-based apps from a smartphone or computer via a home network. Even when you can't rush home in time, the RainCloud can automatically water your lawn or plants for you, or you can tell it to from your phone.
Besides looking for a way to develop a viable irrigation system on the cheap, creator Ryan Talermo has a larger-picture goal in mind. While computerized watering systems have been around, they are too expensive for small-batch local farmers to afford. “With RainCloud, Cultivar is striving for hardware, communication and information systems that are flexible and support the evolution of environmentally responsible precision agriculture, mobile lifestyles and community co-operation,” Cultivar writes on his Kickstarter page. Cultivar hopes the system can revolutionize farming, and help more people move away from processed or commercially farmed foods and toward fresher produce.
The Kickstarter project has successfully reached its $25,000 goal. Cultivar said it will continue to develop the project with new hardware, communication, and information applications.

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EMBRACE+, the wristband that glows when you get texts, notifications

Already busting through a $80,000 funding goal on Kickstarter with a bit less than two weeks left in the campaign, the EMBRACE+ wristband is wearable tech that provides a visual notification when something important happens on your smartphone. Rather than pulling your phone out of a pocket or purse each time it makes a noise or vibrates, the EMBRACE+ wristband uses specific colors to indicate what type of notification just made your phone buzz. Receiving a text is probably more important than receiving a response to a tweet, thus the visual notification on the wristband allows you to differentiate between the two without checking the phone.
At launch, the EMBRACE+ wristband will link colors to actions such as regular incoming calls, text messages, low battery levels, new emails, Skype calls and notifications from social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr and Instagram.
The wristband will also include a security feature that notifies the user when they are too far from the smartphone. This could be particularly helpful when a smartphone gets stolen or left behind at a public place like a restaurant or a bar.
When fully charged, the EMBRACE+ wristband should last for ten days before requiring a recharge. This rating is based on an average of 100 notifications per day. The battery also charges quickly; just ten minutes when connecting the micro-USB charging cable to a laptop. According to the developers, the team is currently focusing on the Android and iOS platforms. The EMBRACE+ wristband will be compatible with smartphones using Android 2.3 and up as well as iOS5 and iOS6. Regarding communication, the wristband connects to the smartphone over Bluetooth 2.1 or 4.0.
You will also be able to get all your notifications in the shower since the wristband is completely waterproof. According to the funding milestones that have been met on the Kickstarter page, there will be two alternate designs at launch, a rounded version and a grooved version. In addition, the team will be adding support for alarm and timer features as well a grandfather clock mode that will inform the user of the current hour using the glowing band.

Other milestones already met include multiple color housings as well as a software development kit for third parties to include EMBRACE+ functionality in their apps. Assuming the project hits a $210,000 funding milestone, the team will change from micro-USB charging to magnetic charging. 
At this point in the process, the prototype is being finalized and the team will be setting up the molds and tooling for mass production. According to the details on the Kickstarter page, the delivery goal is set for a very ambitious July 2013 for all backer levels. This is somewhat surprising compared to other Kickstarter projects that typically have launch days three to six months in the future. The standard version of the EMBRACE+ wristband costs $49, but there are other backing levels for special editions of the wristband. As with all Kickstarter projects, be wary that manufacturing issues could cause significant delays in the delivery window of the item, some lasing multiple weeks or months. 

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