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Smart Home

The Daisy Plant Sensor makes connected gardening affordable

Daisy's low-cost smarts can send you reminders to help you keep your plants healthy.

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Digital Spring

Plants didn't used to talk this much. Now, more and more devices can give them a voice. For amateur gardeners or busy plant owners that need an occasional reminder, that's a good thing. The Daisy Plant Sensor, from gardening startup Digital Spring, will bring a compact, affordable option to the table when it releases this summer.

From the dirt near your plant, Daisy will send you information on moisture, sunlight, and temperature. It'll let you know what you need to do to keep your plant looking perky, showing you the data via its free iOS or Android app, and sending push notifications when it's time to take action.

Daisy's Kickstarter campaign is already fully funded, but you still have a few days if you want to contribute and preorder now. Most packages include free shipping to anywhere in the US, and for an additional cost, it will ship anywhere in the world.

Discounted smarts

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Daisy measure a variety of data and sends that info to your phone or tablet. Digital Spring

Whether you get preorder discounts or not, Daisy looks quite affordable. The expected retail cost is only $16. For the UK and Australia, the price converts to approximately £11 and AU$20. If Digital Spring can make it through manufacturing and keep the cost steady, it'll be at a distinct advantage in terms of value over the other plant sensors I've tested. Koubachi's model costs $100 for an indoor version or $130 for a weatherproofed sensor. The Parrot Flower Power costs $60, and the promising Edyn sensor due out this spring will sell for $100.

Since Daisy is so much less -- under a third of the price of the cheapest model above -- I wonder if Digital Spring has cut corners somewhere. But the promised capabilities make the product look sound.

Cutting costs

Daisy does make a few sacrifices to manage cost. It doesn't measure fertilizer, like Parrot, but it's database can help you plan a schedule for it. And it can only connect to its app via Bluetooth Low Energy. The Wi-Fi capabilities of Koubachi and Edyn let you check on your plant remotely, but that's also a big part of the reason for their price jump over Parrot.

With Daisy, you'll need to be within a stated 30 to 50 feet of the plant to get any new info, but proper scheduling software should help you keep track of when to water even when you're not close. And Daisy looks to have a decent amount of memory packed into its plastic casing, as it can hold data for up to 45 days at a time before offloading it to your app.

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Use the app to collect data on your plants. Digital Spring

It also tracks a limited amount of garden space. Its competitors can monitor entire landscape areas, so you can use one to watch over a whole flower bed. Daisy needs a one to one ratio of plant to sensor, and looks more aimed at potted plants than gardens.

The promised 3-year battery life is more impressive than the range, but unlike Parrot when the batteries run out, you'll need to send the device back to Digital Spring to replace it. Parrot's normal AA batteries are an easy swap.

Finally, Daisy's plant database isn't nearly as robust as Parrot's yet. Digital Spring backers can request specific species to be added and help contribute info, and Daisy might gain momentum quickly with a crowd sourced approach to building the database, but the goal for the initial shipment is 200 plants. That's well short of the 6,000 Parrot carries, and having the app recognize your specific plant is important for tailored advice.

Outlook

That said, again, it's $16, and 200 plants will be enough to cover common species. Every other smart plant sensor costs enough that you need to be ready to invest in your garden to make the purchase worthwhile. If you want to keep a specific potted plant alive, and you know you'll have trouble doing that for one reason or another, spending $16 on Daisy seems more than reasonable.

Koubachi and Parrot both struggled with precision and ease of use. Daisy made sacrifices to get the cost down, but if it can nail those two key factors, this cheap little gadget will be a steal.

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