Smart Home
PlantSitter babysits your plants when you can’t

Plants are easier to take care of than most pets, but they too must be fed -– something that’s not always easy. After all, people can’t always be home and, even when they are, they sometimes forget to feed their plants. Unlike dogs, plants of course don’t bark when they’re hungry. (At least, they shouldn’t.)

PlantSipatent-claimedtter is a soil-mounted, smart plant monitoring system that uses sensors to help owners care for their plants. If a plant doesn’t have enough water, PlantSitter will detect that and send the user a message immediately. The device also measures the nutrition levels in the soil of a plant by measuring the soil’s electrical conductivity (EC). By measuring the soil’s EC, along with its levels of moisture, PlantSitter can make an estimate of the soil’s nutrition levels.

The patent-pending device works in conjunction with a MiGrow app for Android and iOS mobile devices. PlantSitter gets connected through Bluetooth to a nearby smart device equipped with the app. The app monitors a plant by interpreting the received data and making sure the values are within limits prescribed for that specific plant. Data collected from PlantSitter are stored on the device maker’s servers and users can browse the info by hours, days and weeks.

PlantSitter ships in July at future pricing of $29. But early bird Kickstarter backers can get one for pledges starting at $19. Its makers hope to raise $60,000 by March 29. A special version of the app will be made available for kids if they reach their stretch goal of $120,000. In that version, the user interface is more animated, and the plant more humanized, with its own voice. It uses songs and stories to teach kids how to take care of plants.

There have been similar products in the past, including Planty, although not so many recently. Plant owners, especially those with kids, may find PlantSitter appealing. One negative is its lack of Wi-Fi functionality, which limits its ability to connect to a smartphone out of Bluetooth range. To solve that dilemma, its makers plan a separate PlantRouter device with built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi transceivers. But that costs an extra $55.