Office and home flora brighten any room — not to mention reduce carbon dioxide, keep air temperatures down, and get rid of pollutants like benzene. But they can be a pain in the rear to care for. If you don’t find them a sunny window and an ideal humidity, it’s pretty much game over — you’ll be staring at wilting, browning leaves before long.
There’s more to Grovio, a 11.8-inch-tall, 1-pound cylinder that connects to a tube and “pot module,” than meets the eye. It packs a light intensity sensor, moisture sensor, air temperature sensor, humidity sensor, and motion sensor that monitor up to three plants simultaneously. And it automatically waters plants according to their specific needs, dispensing tap water from a refillable reservoir (1,600 milliliters) to connected probes.
“When habitable conditions are not provided, it usually kills [plants] quickly,” Oleksandr Ivanov, Grovio’s chief product engineer, told Digital Trends. “That’s because your plants can’t talk and express directly what they need. They may need very careful and accurate watering. Some of them need more light, and some less. Air temperature and humidity are also highly important.”
It’s a hands-off affair if you want it to be. Grovio lasts for up to 45 days on a single water refill and four AA batteries, and adjusts watering rates based on plant type. But if you prefer to be hands-on with your greenery, Grovio’s “suggestions” mode will nudge you to make small changes that could help with growth. If Grovio detects that a plant is receiving too much direct sunlight, it’ll tell you to move it somewhere shadier.
Grovio’s smartphone app lets you get even more granular. It relays watering settings and current soil conditions for your horticultural pleasure. You can name plants, if you wish, and “interact” with them in a chatbot-like interface — if you name your African Violet “Johnny,” for instance, you’ll get a message from the personified plant when it’s “thirsty.”
Grovio isn’t compatible with smart home platforms like Samsung’s SmartThings and Apple’s HomeKit, but it works with voice assistants like Siri and Alexa. You can say things like, “Have you monitored my plant yet?” and you’ll get a response.
One thing Grovio can’t do is fine-tune settings for individual plant species, which Ivanov said would have stretched the company’s engineering resources too thin. “You have to build a database of thousands of plants,” he said. “It’s too much work.” Instead, Grovio will encourage users to send pictures of plants to support staff, who will recommend settings based on climatic conditions, genus, and other factors.
Grovio starts at $150. It launches on Kickstarter today for the discounted price of $90, and begins shipping to backers in November.