You’re probably over-watering your lawn, and this app will prove it

The benefits of a connected fridge or coffee maker might not be quite there yet, but smart sprinklers make complete sense. Whereas sprinklers controlled by timers will run right after the rain, products such as Rachio connect to the Internet and pause watering based on your local forecast.

Connected-irrigation-system maker ETwater thinks the reason more people aren’t using smart sprinklers is that they simply don’t know that such products exist. That’s why the firm has created Unity, an app that is “really an awareness thing,” COO Lee Williams tells Digital Trends. “It’s in the category of, hey, did you know there’s an app for that?”

The app is designed to show you how much water you’re wasting by not having a connected sprinkler. When you fire up the Android or iOS app, you get a satellite view of your area. You can zoom in on your yard and start circling areas. Once you’ve drawn around an area, a box pops up with a list of five plant types: turf, shrubs, trees, flowers or vegetables, and succulents. You make the selection, pick your sprinkler type, and use a slider to indicate how much sun the area gets. There’s also a toggle switch for newly planted items.

Once you have your whole lawn mapped out, there’s a little pie chart icon you can click on. The app does a quick calculation based on everything you just entered and shows you what percentage of water you’re using on turf, flowers, shrubs, and so on. “More than that, we give you some perspective,” says Williams. “We show you how much of that is being wasted by not using a smart irrigation system or not using a service.” The app also puts the amounts in real-world terms. It will let you know you’re wasting 29,000 glasses of water, for example. And it uses customers’ data within a one-hundred-mile radius to show how much water your neighbors are saving, too.

While the app may be a tool to raise awareness, it’s also a way for ETwater to sell you some products. Within the app, you can order equipment and sign up for the required $35-a-month service. Based on the preferences you select in the app, the ETwater will run the service for you, suspending the program when it’s going to rain and so on.

Although the company has completely new controllers available, most customers simply use ETwater’s retrofittable remote control. “We’ve reverse engineered the control codes of over 70 percent of the sprinkler controllers that are out there on the market,” says Williams. “We take over that existing system and make it smart.” It’s about the size of half a shoebox and doesn’t require rewiring.

Thirty-five dollars a month is pretty steep, but Williams thinks there’s a market for those who want lush lawns without putting in any of the work, and who want the ability to connect with customer support 24/7 if something goes amiss with their smart sprinkler.

Product Review

Bigger, louder, smarter: The new Echo Show is better in every way

The pressure was on to make a bigger, better Echo Show device, and Amazon delivered. Featuring a larger screen and better sound, the new Show is a combined smart speaker, TV, and overall entertainment center in one.
Smart Home

A study says kids and security spur people’s smart home purchases

Why are more people inviting internet-connected smart home devices into their households? According to a survey sponsored by Home Depot, the growth is primarily being driven by children and security.
Smart Home

Amazon ups its smart home game with a new Echo Show, microwave, and clock

Amazon revealed a whole bunch of new smart home products at its annual hardware event in Seattle this week including a redesigned Echo Show, a smart microwave, a new security platform, and more.
Smart Home

Amazon creates a bigger toy box with its new Alexa Gadgets Toolkit

Amazon is giving manufacturers of interactive devices and smart home enthusiasts a new toy with a new Alexa Gadgets Toolkit that enables the construction of accessories that pair to Echo devices.
Product Review

With the thump of an Echo Sub, Alexa goes from an assistant to a DJ

Amazon’s Echo Sub can pair with an Echo to provide the room-filling bass that little speakers just can’t muster on their own. And at $130, all that bass won’t break the bank, either.
Smart Home

Forget smart locks: Locky makes your keys smarter

Instead of an expensive and complicated smart lock, consider making your conventional key smarter instead using Locky, a Bluetooth-equipped key case that communicates key location, use, and door lock status via a smartphone app.
Product Review

Invisible until you need it, SimpliSafe is a no-hassle way to watch your home

These days, there a lot of do-it-yourself home security systems out there. How do you choose? Simplisafe’s latest offering brings together beautiful hardware and the ability to customize your home security package. We do wish that we…
Smart Home

It cooks! It blends! Instant Pot strikes again with a blender that can cook

From the creators of the popular Instant Pot electronic pressure cooker comes the Instant Pot Ace blender, which can both cook and pulverize food. It turns soups, purees and the like into one-pitcher operations.
Smart Home

New to Instant Pot? A no-pressure guide to using the popular pressure cooker

The versatility of the Instant Pot makes it a great kitchen companion, but it also makes the multicooker a little intimidating if you're a newbie. Here are some tips on how to use the magical device.
Smart Home

Rise and shine with the best alarm clocks to kick-start your day

People are finicky about their sleeping habits, but, fortunately, the best alarm clocks can probably match your lifestyle and budget. Here are some of our current favorites, including the Amazon Echo Spot.
Smart Home

Amazon’s partnership with SideChef makes Alexa your sous chef

Amazon and SideChef are cooking up a new interactive kitchen experience as Amazon integrates SideChef's recipes into its new Echo devices, enabling users to access recipes, photos, and video demos.
Product Review

Alexa microwaved my corn and it creeped me out

When Amazon introduced its Alexa-compatible microwave, we found the concept strange. Our second thought was whether it would also be an Amazon speaker. We got our hands on the appliance at Amazon’s event. Here’s what we learned.
Smart Home

5 lessons from Amazon’s head-spinning, head-splitting Alexa fiesta

Yesterday’s surprise Alexa announcement was a deluge of fast-paced devices and software announcements. Here are five takeaways from the event (hint: one is a prediction of Amazon world domination).
Smart Home

Second-gen vs. third-gen Echo Dot: What’s the difference?

Amazon's latest Dot promises better sound and a softer appearance than its predecessor for a few dollars more. If you're still debating between the second and third-generation models, here's what you need to know.