Food and Beverage Maker/Development

Edu-CADO makes growing guacamole trees easier on green thumbs

Many young children, both boys and girls, love playing around and roughhousing in the dirt. And while getting one’s hands dirty is undoubtedly fun for kids of all ages, it would certainly be nice if parents could inject a bit of education into the mix at the same time.

The Edu-CADO promises to do just that. Edu-CADO is an educational gadget that ultimately helps kids and parents work together to plant a guacamole tree. The device’s avocado seed holder is a modern take on the old fashioned method of sticking toothpicks in the seed and balancing it over a glass of water, though the Edu-Cado is notably toothpick-free. The green plastic Edu-CADO contraption offers a more stable way to balance an avocado seed over a glass of water as it houses a pocket for the seed, holes for the roots, and four hardy arms to hold it all together. Though specific measurements aren’t provided, the device appears to be compatible with pretty much any size glass or mug you might have in your cupboard.

Edu-CADO provides a fun activity for both kids and adults who want to exercise their green thumb. It also presents a new and improved way for nature-oriented homeowners to plant a tree in their own backyards. Other easy and fun gardening items worth checking out include NutriTower and Powerguard Greenhouse. This campaign seeks to raise $9500 by April 13, 2015. Backers can pick up one product for $7 with an expected delivery of Aug 2015.

Connected Objects

Back to the Backers: Daisy app and sensor

What if plants could talk, and tell you exactly what they needed?

The Daisy app and its companion sensor were very recently covered by Backerjack, and detailed a horticulturally slanted, smartphone-enabled system that would alert users to the moisture, light, and temperature needs of all the greenery in their home or apartment. Unfortunately, not enough backers believed in the product, and it subsequently met a grim demise shortly after.

Now, Daisy is back with a much lower campaign goal of $5,000 versus the original’s $50,000. The product and the prices at which it was going for prior are exactly the same, so there have been no major modifications to the core idea—not that it was necessary. The sensor’s companion app does a lot of the heavy lifting by including an encyclopedia along with lots of customization options, too. A donation of $33 gets backers two Daisy sensors to be shipped in June of this year. Let’s see if it’ll have a much sunnier outcome this time around.


Powerguard Greenhouse keeps rodents away so gardeners can play

During the warmer months, gardening can be a great form of relaxation and enjoying the sun and fresh air. It’s an added benefit that a vegetable garden not only offers fresh food, but allows the gardener complete control of how those veggies were grown and treated.

Powerguard Greenhouse offers a safe way to keep rodents, deer and other animals from damaging young plants. It’s not entirely clear what the containers are made of, but they are fairly see-through for allowing the user to track the growth of the plant. It is also touted as extending the growing season of plants, but does not detail in exactly what way. The size of the products makes them ideal for those living in urban areas, as well as apartments, condos and homes in suburban areas. They also stack easily for winter storage in a shed or garage.

Any way to keep animals away from plants without hurting them is certainly a welcome addition to the gardening market. Urban backers may also be interested in Garden@Home, and commuters may appreciate GroUrban. This campaign seeks to raise $25,000 CAD (~$21,600 USD). For $40 CAD (~$35 USD) backers get three products with an expected delivery of March 2015.


Plant OS garden sensor and app gives your green thumb something else to do

Even if the exact scientific knowledge behind the processes behind gardening were unknown for thousands of years, deep human intuition would’ve figured it out anyway. As our understanding of the natural world continues to evolve, it’s been made clear how much the process is not only an art, but a science as well.

There’s a very intricate dance that plays out between light, temperature, humidity, and carbon dioxide that contributes to a plant’s growth. High Tech’s Plant OS uses a family of sensors and controllers to keep an eye on all of these factors. Every minute, the THC unit records levels of each variable and sends that information back to a user’s smartphone. This works together with the Plant Tachometer camera to provide a high-resolution photosynthesis reading to use as reference for the environment.

What good is all this information if a user can’t act on it? The Plant OS Power Controller allows just that, providing a space where appliances like air conditioners, CO2 machines, and dehumidifiers can all be plugged in and controlled remotely using the companion app. The app gives users a space to check out and share all their data, something High Tech encourages as a way to gain more understanding of the intricacies of plant growth. An $899 Plant OS Starter Kit is suitable for a small garden, comes with a THC meter, a Plant Tachometer, and a Power Controller. The Deluxe version supports two and goes for $1,999. Backers can expect their kit in March 2015 should the campaign reach its $50,000 goal.

Technology has creeped into every part of our lives, and gardening is one of the few areas where this isn’t true. Others in the gardening space, like the Blossom Wi-Fi, Sprinkl, and Eve provide ways to remotely water a few plants or even a small yard, but no other product is as fully featured, covers as much space, or is as exhaustingly detailed as the Plant OS. High Tech wants the Plant OS to be the premier consumer-grade gardening system and it shows.


NutriTower brings gardening indoors, leaves bugs outdoors

There’s nothing like fresh veggies and herbs to compliment a much anticipated and carefully prepared main dish. Such treats are normally only available during summer and fall unless one has their own greenhouse – or NutriTower. This convenient system has special lighting that provides plants with the right amount of light for growing, so windows are not mandatory to make it work. Once water is poured in the water storage unit, the system is somewhat self-irrigating. The vertical system means minimal space is required for the garden, and it can even be installed in the kitchen for easy harvesting.

It’s not clearly indicated what special tools may be necessary for setting up and installing the system, useful information to include in the campaign. Backers may also want to check out The Herb Grower, Garden@Home, and Ecofarm campaigns. This campaign seeks to raise $30,000 CAD ($26,200 USD). For $50 CAD ($44 USD), backers get one standard seed starter kit with an expected delivery of March 2015.

Home Pets

Ecofarm puts your lazy fish to work creating aquaponic herbs

Fresh herbs make for some of the tastiest home cooked meals. There’s just a more robust flavor that comes from something that is home grown rather than something store bought.

While most herb gardens can seem like a lot of work, Ecofarm is introducing one that requires minimal work, as long as one doesn’t mind that fish excrement is the fertilizer keeping the herbs healthy and growing. Perhaps the concept isn’t much different than fertilizing a vegetable garden with manure. Just as the cows have to be fed, this herb garden requires the user to keep the fish fed. The tank is self-cleaning because the plants work as a natural filter and clean the water.

Besides herbs, Ecofarm is also able to grow mini tomatoes, peppers, and strawberries. The dimensions of the tank are not stated, but it is touted as being “minimalist” in its size; something that could easily fit on a kitchen counter. It doesn’t clearly indicate how many fish are ideal in the tank, and whether or not more fish are required for herb gardens with small veggies or not.

This product certainly has appeal to those who are concerned about GMO foods, and also those who see cooking as a hobby and enjoy gardening. While a great concept, Ecofarm joins scores of other similar mini eco-system fish tanks like the Avo. This campaign seeks to raise €30,000 (~$37,200) by December 25, 2014. For €60 (~$75), backers get one product with an expected delivery of February 2015.


Transforming GATR snaps up jobs of multiple yard tools

Whether it’s working around the yard, gardening or clearing some land to do some building, outdoor tools such as wheelbarrows, dollies, and four wheeled trolleys are often needed to get the job done. GATR offers a multifaceted yard work tool that is suitable for anyone from homeowners taking care of their property to those who make their living in the farm industry. Gator transporter has numerous attachments that allow it to convert easily from a two wheeled dolly or trailer trolley to a four wheeled cart, and no tools are required. Gator is able to handle light, medium and heavy loads because of the reverse grip handles, tub attachment, and duel wheeled system. There is also an attachment for moving large pieces of timer and additional attachments that are in the works, depending on how well this campaign does.

The fact that everything stores reasonably flat when disassembled could be a double-edged sword. While it does save space, some may find it too inconvenient if reassembly is needed each time. This campaign seeks to raise $10,000 by December 31, 2014. For $1500, backers get one product with an expected delivery of February 2015.


ChiliBud is a tube to provide for your peppers

Chili lovers and tomato lovers can now have a friendlier environment in which to enjoy growing the plants that will make their favorite foods more readily available. And there’s nothing like a fresh pot of chili or steaming plate of spaghetti with homemade sauce on a brisk autumn or winter day. ChiliBud is a 500mm high cylindrical greenhouse that promotes a micro-climate while still allowing for proper pollination. In addition, the tube wall perimeter helps reduce slug attacks, while the spherical reflector means that the best use of light is being made for the most optimum plant growing environment. This is especially true for potted plants since the tube promotes an enhanced heat storage situation, even for the more northern side of the plant. A smooth balcony or patio will be required to get the best results for stability from the rubber rim. For £25, backers get one product with an expected delivery of November 2015.


Kink Kure shows it knows how to fix your hose woes

Gardening can be one of the most satisfying and peaceful activities in which to engage. Until it’s time to water the plants. When the hose kinks it’s mandatory to go and straighten it before the water flows freely again. One day, the creator of Kink Kure got fed up with this unwelcome exercise and decided to find a solution to this annoying problem. It can seem frivolous to replace a hose when there’s only one problem spot. And while the life of a hose can be extended when it’s stored in a basement, shed, or garage, hoses will still eventually kink due to age and the general wear of usage. Kink Kure seems simple to attach and still allows the hose to bend while preventing kinking, even when pulling around corners and winding; a convenient solution to a not-s0-convenient problem. For $5, backers get one with expected delivery in January 2015.

Sensors/IoT Smart Home

Eve smart irrigation system gives plants what they crave

The Premise. Why should the indoors reap all the benefits of automated smart home technology? What homeowners can also use is something that makes their lives easier when it comes to home and garden maintenance, while also cutting back on utility bill costs.

The Product. Eve is a smart yard system that uses real-time data to determine when to water a lawn or plants. The Eve itself is a control panel that can control smart sprinkler systems and monitors weather forecasts to make a decision on whether to water or let mother nature handle the job. Eve’s field operatives are little green ground pegs called Adam sensors, which can be pushed into soil at any location and will monitor soil moisture both at the surface and at the level where a plant’s roots will be. In combination with Eve’s eye on the weather, the Adam sensors report back to Eve to let the system know when a watering is needed. Better still, Adam sensors have a battery life up to one full year without being changed.

The Pitch. Eve comes right out and points out the shortcomings of other outdoor smart watering systems as little more than glorified timers. Getting into further detail about the Zigbee and SmartThings systems that Eve runs on, developer Plaid Systems makes a strong argument for why their product stands as the first truly smart irrigation system. Plaid Systems is raising $75,000 to finance molding and production.

The Perks. Adam sensors start at $55 with $50 added for each additional sensor. The Eve controller can be picked up to support as many as 16 zones for $100, but both Adam and Eve require a SmartThings Hub. To get everything required, the $295 tier bundles an Eve, 1 Adam sensor, and a SmartThings Hub, with the hub arriving in October and the Adam and Eve arriving later in March 2015. Multiple tiers are available offering varying multiples of each product.

The Potential. As the campaign points out immediately, this feels like one of the first smart yard systems, offering a combination of weather data and soil moisture to determine when to water and how much instead of just controlling timers with a smartphone. The requirement of a SmartThings Hub feels more like a setback for most homeowners, save those who are already using the platform and other Zigbee devices in their smart home. The devices can work without the trio assembled, but lack a strong degree of the functionality that will sell people upon looking into Eve and its campaign.