Bitponics connects your urban garden to the cloud
By C.C. Weiss
July 1, 2013
Don't want to ask your creepy neighbor to check on your plants while you're on vacation? Take care of them from the cloud, instead. One of the latest products in the burgeoning Internet of Things, the Bitponics system is a "personal gardening assistant" designed to make hydroponics gardening easier. The system connects the garden to the cloud, letting gardeners keep an eye on their plants and exercise their green thumb even when they're away.
Bitponics is a project born in Brooklyn, New York and is designed to improve the urban home garden. Similar in concept to the Plant City Project but in a user-friendly, DIY kit, Bitponics can be integrated into existing hydroponic systems to help growers better monitor and care for their plants.
The Bitponics system starts with a personalized growing plan. Gardeners can either create their own plan or rely on an existing plan from Bitponics' online community of gardeners. Once a plan has been established, Bitponics' sensor set monitors pH, humidity, air temperature, water temperature and light to keep the plants on track. The sensor data is routed through the Bitponics base station and onward to the cloud via Wi-Fi. The user can access the data on any web browser by logging into his or her dashboard.
When plant conditions drift outside of opitmal range set in the growth plan, the Bitponics system notifies the user with an explanation and fixes. It can also automatically adjust the settings of devices connected directly to its two controllable electrical outlets, increasing light or water, for instance. Alternatively, the garden owner can control devices plugged into the Bitponics base station over the web. While not every aspect of the garden can be controlled remotely, the Bitponics system provides reminders for manual actions like refilling the water reservoir.
Optimal growth plans are reliant upon crowd-sourced information and experience, and Bitponics expects that its system will grow stronger as more users participate. The hardware itself is open source, and Bitponics encourages hackers to improve upon it and share their improvements with the community.
Bitponics ran a successful Kickstarter campaign last year and plans to get its system to market this summer. The hardware will cost US$499 and basic web service with daily automated data logging and data storage for up to three months of grow history is free. The upgraded "serious grower" web service costs $9 per month and includes unlimited storage, email notifications when the garden needs attention, and automated data logging every 15 minutes. A "commercial grower" account is also available.