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Consumer Technology

Published on March 26th, 2009 | by Andrew Williams


New Device Allows Thirsty Plants to Twitter for Water

March 26th, 2009 by  


Go on, admit it – how many times have you forgotten to water your houseplants? Maybe you’ve even left some of them so long they’ve withered away to nothing. In fact, the chances are that if a plant could talk the thing they’d be most likely to say would be WATER ME!

Well, thanks to a new device, your long-suffering plants will now be able to do just that. What’s that you say – a talking houseplant? Well, not exactly, but thanks to researchers at New York University’s interactive telecommunications program plants will now be able to to tell owners when they need water or if they’ve had too much via the social networking service Twitter.

The device, called Botanicalls (video), is made of soil-moisture sensors, connected to a circuit board, which measure moisture levels and communicate the information to a microcontroller.

According to co-creator Rob Faludi, “Obviously plants can’t talk or Twitter directly, so we have to help them along with that. There are settings in the software that allow you to set what kind of plant you’re using and also adjust for characteristics of the soil, different soil has different qualities”

The Botanicall works out whether moisture levels are too low, or too high, and then transmits a wireless signal to Twitter, via the Internet, allowing users to send short, 140-character text messages to their network of friends.

Botanicalls other co-creator, Kate Hartman, said people can personalize the language used in the Twitter message to suit the owner, or the type of plant.

Hartman told reporters, “There’s always a basic “I’m thirsty, could you please water me” message. But they also accelerate in terms of need, so there’s an urgent message: “I’m desperately thirsty, please water me.””

So there we have it – now there’s no excuse for forgetting your chores. The problem is, what exactly are you meant to do if your plant tweets you with an “I’m f$%^ing parched!” message when you happen to be on holidays and picking up messages on your cellphone?

Image Credits – webg33k via flickr

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About the Author

is a writer and freelance journalist specialising in sustainability and green issues. He lives in Cardiff, Wales.

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