New App lets users 'talk' with house plants

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For the gardener on the go, a new service for use on mobile devices lets plants "tell" their owners in real time when they are thirsty and, for outdoor shrubbery, allows even owners who are far from home to give them the water they need immediately.

"About a year ago, I got tired of killing my plants," said Eduardo Torrealba co-founder of Oso Technologies, the company that created the Plant Link product. This invention, he said, offered an innovative solution to an age-old problem.

Torrealba and his colleagues created the service using a combination of soil sensors and software that constantly monitor plant water levels and send instant alerts telling owners when the plans need water. Outdoor plants can be watered remotely using an automated valve linked to a home's water source.

The plant soil sensors take measurements every five to 10 minutes. The data they gather are then processed electronically, using an algorithm that also factors in weather conditions, soil type and geographic location of the plant to provide highly accurate advice on when to water the plants, Torrealba said.

Funding allowing Torrealba to launch his new product/service was obtained through Kickstarter, an online crowd-funding website that allows budding entrepreneurs to pitch innovative ideas in need of start-up capital to the general public.

The website allows participants to pledge funding for projects they deem viable. Those backers, however, are only asked to provide the funds if financial pledges from other uses reach the level set by the entrepreneur and that is necessary to get the project off the ground.

The Plant Link project received close to $100,000 in donations in approximately one month of fundraising, surpassing its initial goal of $75,000, according to figures published on the Kickstarter website.

Users of the service can opt to "keep in touch" with their plants via text message, email alerts or by monitoring their plants remotely from a special website.

Prices for the package are projected to range from $99 to $150 and the first batch is due to be released as early as June.

Tags: Apps

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