Last week several tech and gadget news outlets reported that the Koubachi Wi-Fi Plant Sensor has been released and is available for order (Amazon or SmartHome). I remembered reading about this device some time ago, and I decided to try it out.
Our houseplants are under my care, and they are generally happy and healthy. A simple water moisture indicator would not get my attention, and certainly would not be worthy of a place in my collection of semi-useful/useless Wi-Fi enabled devices (of which the Nest Learning Thermostat is the most useful), but the Koubachi promises more than just moisture monitoring:
Thanks to the unique Plant Care Engine (PCE), Koubachi is able to advise you about everything your plant needs: water, fertilizer, humidity, temperature and light! Koubachi not only tells you WHEN to care for your plants, but also gives you specific instructions HOW.
The device is about the size and shape of a golf club driver head:
The installation and configuration process is interesting. There is only one button on the device, no USB plugs for direct configuration. In order to configure the device to connect to your Wi-Fi network, you first place it in Ad-Hoc mode, then directly connect to it using your computer Wi-Fi adapter, then access the device settings using a web browser, and configure the Wi-Fi settings, after which the device will connect to your home network.
Below are screenshots of the configuration process, starting with online account creation:
At this point everything appeared to be setup and working, except the “To my plants” button was not working. On clicking the “Plants” link, I got to a screen where I can add my first plant, but nothing happened when I clicked on or dragged the pot icon. I tried using Chrome and Internet Explorer, same thing.
The following day I logged in from the office, and now the plants link worked and dragging the pot to the canvas let me create my first plant. Maybe the sensor had to check in with the backend before the backend allowed me to add a plant?
After adding the plant to the canvas, you select the type of plant and pot from the online database. Only 538 types seems a bit limited, but my corn plant was easy enough to find.
Below are screenshots of the plant selection process:
After adding the plant, you have to associate the sensor with the plant. But, that required that I press the button on the sensor, and since I was in the office, I had to wait until the next day at home to continue the setup.
Once configured, the sensor enters a calibration period that will take about a week. In the mean time it is displaying semi-interesting information:
The iPhone app shows similar information to the website, and includes push notifications of events. So far nothing exciting has happened, no email notifications, no push notification, I guess I’ll have to wait until the sensor completes the calibration procedure, or until I sacrifice a plant for the sake of curiosity.
In the mean time I’ll install some more sensors in the other house plants. I was planning on installing sensors in the patio plants, but this sensor is apparently not quite rain proof, and an outdoor sensor has been announced, to be released in October.
Oh, and in case you were concerned about effect of the Wi-Fi radiation on your plants, there is a FAQ entry for that
Does the Wi-Fi radiation affect my plant?
No. According to the current state of knowledge there is neither a positive nor a negative effect of Wi-Fi radiation on plants. Note that the Koubachi Wi-Fi Plant Sensor usually transmits the data only once a day and that the transmission lasts only ca. 5 seconds. Therefore, the radiation exposure is many times smaller compared to other wireless devices.