Way back at the start of the year, we looked at a service called Koubachi – a Web and iPhone app that helps you look after your house plants by tracking factors like when you last watered them, the time of year and the local climate.
Since then, Switzerland-based Koubachi’s offering has become all the more interesting thanks to the introduction of the WiFi Plant Sensor. This $135 (€89 / £99.99) device essentially connects your plant to the Internet, updating the accompanying app with regular readings of soil moisture, ambient temperature and light levels, helping you monitor its health.
The set-up process is quick and relatively easy. Insert two AA batteries (supplied) and then visit a dedicated Web page that walks you through connecting the device to your WiFi network and registering it with Koubachi’s servers. From there it’s a case of inserting the sensor into the soil of your favorite potted plant, selecting that plant within the app (it covers more than 500 types of plants) and then letting the app know that you’ll be monitoring the plant with the sensor.
Once up and running, the sensor will send readings from the plant to the app every 24 hours at a time of your choosing. You can also manually send a reading by pressing the single button on the sensor. Initially, there’s a little calibration of soil moisture required – Koubachi needs to know that the soil is freshly watered and then measure how fast it takes to dry out before it can accurately measure moisture.
As someone who has real trouble remembering to look after plants, I leapt at the chance to try the Koubachi WiFi Sensor out. The lavender plant I tested it with definitely lived longer thanks to the watering reminders supplied by the iPhone app. It also helped me by advising me that the plant didn’t have quite as much light as it ideally should. When the time comes, I’ll know that I need to fertilize the plant, and if it needs misting.
My testing period wasn’t completely without a hitch. For some reason, I could never get the iPhone app to display light and temperature information supplied by the sensor, although all readings displayed absolutely fine via the Web app, as shown in the screenshot above. Koubachi tells me that my sensor was working correctly, so it may have just been a temporary glitch.
The Koubachi WiFi Plant Sensor is currently designed just for indoor plants, although a version that is hardy enough to work outdoors is due for launch in October.
At $135 / €89 / £99.99, it’s certainly not something you’ll want to buy for just any plant, and if you want to monitor multiple plants this way you’ll be heading towards some serious expense. That said, there are no ongoing costs, as use of the apps is free. If you’re a green-fingered gadget fiend, the Koubachi WiFi Plant Sensor is worth looking into, as one day we’ll probably all be monitoring our plants this way.
Published September 1, 2012 — 13:12 UTC