For some people, gardening comes naturally. They have what's known as a "green thumb". For others...not so much and inadvertently kill plant after plant until they quit trying to ever garden again.
What if there was a way to build a relationship between a plant and its owner and help turn the owner's "death thumb" into a green one? For example, what if a plant could make a phone call and tell its owner how thirsty it is? Or if the owner could call the plant to find out the plants needs. Think I'm crazy? Think plants can't talk on the phone? Then you must be new to the Botanicalls concept.
Botanicalls is a project using ten plants connected to soil moisture sensors-a sensor is made of two nails and a circuit- which send the plants information (such as moisture levels) to an arduino board which then passes the information to an Xbee network. An Xport is used to send data via PHP to a mySQL database and to Asterisk (an open-source telephone system), which then makes the phone call. When the owner picks up the phone her plant (an automated voice) will let her know how thirsty it is.
If for some reason the owner would like to know more about the plant such as how it likes to be cared for or what kind of plant it is, the owner can also make a phone call and listen to the plants detailed information. Consequently the plant has a better chance of survival now that the owner understands the nature and needs of the plant.
Who are the green thumb, plant loving innovators behind Botanicalls? They are students: Robert Faludi, Kate Hartman, Kati London and Rebecca Bray from NYU.
Want to try it? Call 212.202.8348 to talk to a plant used in the project or just visit the Botanicalls website where you can also find out more information and email one of the innovators with any questions.
If you missed Botanicalls at the two day ITP Winter Show on December 17 and 18 of 2006, you can still see it on video at Rocketboom or at this video blog.
If only they could come up with way for a house to call its owner (or the owner call her house) when the owner is away and leaves the lights on, the stove on or the water running. It would bring peace of mind to millions!
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