Black thumb? If you're tired of sending your plants to an early compost heap then you might want to thank the industrious gnomes at Koubachi who have released an outdoor version of their Wi-Fi Plant Sensor. Like its indoor stablemate, the new model unveiled at this year's IFA in Berlin measures soil moisture, light and temperature, sending the data to the cloud where you or anyone you've shared your account with can check on the needs of your botanical buddies. What's new is an IPx4 certification, making this sensor fully waterproof and ready for the great outdoors.
Apparently the Japanese are going crazy for the it but, despite its Japanese inspired name (Kouba=plant; chi=diminutive), the Koubachi was developed by two computing students at the ETH Zurich in Switzerland. According to spokesman David Kurmann, Moritz Koehler and Philip Bolliger kept killing their new office plants. Instead of remembering to water them they did what any tech genii would, they experimented with a plant sensor to "give their plant a voice." The young startup set up in 2009, by autumn 2010 it launched an app and as of four months ago the indoor sensor was available for purchase worldwide. The outdoor model will be available next month.
As the Koubachi system allows users to check the status of their plants online, keen gardeners can go on vacation and know if their plants are being cared for. The battery-powered device will even send out an alert when weather conditions threatening the health of the plant arise. There's also access to a "Plant Cyclopedia," which provides information about growth form, vegetation cycle, blossom time, etc.
Still looking similar to the business end of a 3-wood, the new model will sell for €129 (approx. US$165) in Europe when it becomes available in October. This matches the launch price of the original, which has recently seen a price drop to €89 in Europe and $99 in the States. Once you have the sensor (which can analyze multiple plants), lifetime membership to the cloud service and the app are free.