Fancy keeping plants but afraid of not having the time to look after them? A group of Singapore University of Technology and Design students have produced an automated gardening device to help the busy working class look after their plants at home “remotely”.
The abovementioned device together with the accompanying phone application was the brainchild of 25-year-old student from the Engineering Product Development pillar, Kenneth Lim and his five teammates.
Kenneth said: “For this particular subject, we had to develop a product that was related to the ‘Internet of Things’. At that time, we had a fellow student who kept plants in his hostel room. As he was hardly in his room, and there was little sunlight in parts of the room, the plants wilted.”
Hence, Kenneth and his project team hoped to produce a gardening device – Hydra – that could combine plant watering as well as providing illumination to the plants to help those who lack the time or whose plants are placed in less ideal environments to remotely look after their plants ‘any time’.
The Hydra device consists of a water storage tank with a sensor attached on top of it, together with a lighting facility. The project team calls this the “PlantBox”.
After placing a plant on top of the “PlantBox”, the sensor can help the user monitor the plant’s condition, such as whether the soil has enough water. The application will notify the user when the water content in the plant’s soil drops below the optimal level and the user can then choose to adjust the amount of water the plant receives.
Besides adjusting the amount of water the plant receives and the frequency of the plant-watering, users can also use the application to set up the plants’ preferred lighting intensity. “Plantbox” currently can handle up to 7.5cm plant pots and plants that are up to 15cm tall.
Currently, the “Hydra” device and application can look after plants such as bonsai and cactus, etc.
Kenneth said that the device will also have an added phototaking ability to allow the plant to take a “selfie” and send it to the user, to allow the user to feel its presence. He added: “The application will also provide little tips on how to look after various plant species.”
Kenneth and his team were also deciding if this project and its various uses could be expanded on a large scale, and hoped to incorporate the environments of different regions around the world to make it convenient to look after different types of plants.