There you are stuck at a birthday party with your kids, let's say, and suddenly you realize your pet rose bush is dying of thirst. What to do?
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The Israeli startup GreenIQ has developed a computer system that controls irrigation and lighting in the garden - that can be controlled by mobile phone.
The computer keeps track of rainfall and wind, as well as sunrise and sunset times, can also be controlled from the customer’s tablet or computer. It's the control by phone that's so cutting-edge.
Odi Dahan, GreenIQ’s founder, explains how it all began.
“Last winter, I was sitting at home and listening to the rain falling. Suddenly, I heard the sprinklers go off. That upset me, since the rain was falling so hard I couldn’t go outside and start playing with the irrigation controls. That very evening, I went to my computer and made the first diagram of the product.”
Today’s irrigation control systems for the home are little more than simple timers. They don’t keep track of water requirements or weather conditions.
“Ordinary timers don't know what's actually going on in the garden,” Dahan says. “Our idea was a smart box that could connect to the Internet via WiFi and receive information from the closest weather station. It would get precise data on temperature, humidity, sunlight levels and more. Israel has 12 weather stations that provide good coverage of all the major population centers. The computer matches the irrigation time to current weather conditions and predictions.”
GreenIQ’s box controls irrigation and lighting in up to six different areas. The product, which was launched commercially this month, costs NIS 900. “The price is competitive with any standard irrigation control system,” Dahan says.
Internet of Things
The product will be marketed directly to consumers, mainly through gardeners. “Gardeners are the professional authority with whom the customer consults about the garden and irrigation. While they’re not our consumers, they’re definitely our customers, our sales agents. Of couse they will receive a commission and an installation fee. Incidentally, installation is very simple,” Dahan claims.
GreenIQ taps into a prominent Internet trend known as Internet of Things, in which objects in day-to-day life such as lamps, heaters and even the lock on the front door are linked to the Internet and can be controlled via smartphone.
Dahan, an engineer from central Israel, established the company, designed the product and provided initial funding. He's in final stages of raising capital for mass production.
"Our product isn’t suitable for countries with abundant rainfall, nor those with a very dry climate," he adds. "It’s very suitable for Israel, however, because of the climate and also because water is expensive here. It’s also appropriate for Australia, South Africa and the United States. We already have a customer in Canada, in a region where summers are very dry, but with a chance of rain. In those countries, the need is real, and once we complete the pilot here in Israel, we will set up distribution channels in all the appropriate countries. In countries where it rains during the summer, customers can save up to 50 percent on irrigation costs. In Israel, they can save up to a third — an average monthly savings of NIS 100 per household.”
Dahan also hopes to expand GreenIQ to include institutions as well as private homes and apartment buildings. “We’re thinking about coming out with a product that is based on a SIM card rather than on WiFi, which will enable us to approach institutional markets such as municipalities and public parks. That’s the next stage of the company’s growth.”