This stick will stop you killing your plants
Alphr Kickstarter of the week: Helloplant
I have an exceptional track record of killing houseplants. Through neglect or too much attention, I have seen many plants die: I am, to all intents and purposes, the Green Reaper.
This week’s Kickstarter pick wants to give even the most incompetent gardener green fingers, with a little help from some simple technology.
What is Helloplant?
A clever little stick that looks like a cross between a kazoo and an ice lolly. Stick it in the soil next to the plant you want to monitor, and it’ll act as your plant’s naggy agent, with notifications to your phone when it needs something.
“My client is too hot.”
“My client needs more light.”
“My client needs a drink.”
You get the idea. Originally Helloplant’s plan was to create a self-watering plant pot, founder Stefan Oberpeilsteiner tells me, but soon it “became clear that this product would be much too complicated and expensive to be really useful.”
They have added a little complexity – an optional WiFi hub offers remote access to your plants, and even promises to allow an Amazon Echo Alexa skill for taking care of your little green darlings.
Early prototypes have been in the hands of several testers for some time. “It is good to see the core functionality being used on a regular basis by all of our testers,” Oberpeilsteiner says, adding that they’ve learned “a lot about people’s needs” in the process. “We would definitely do this again.”
Why should I care?
Because your plant’s life is at stake, damnit! Think about it: how often do you look at your plants? Now consider how often you look at your phone.
With Helloplant, theoretically, your plants can’t die. Or if they do, it’ll be because the battery beat them to it. Basically, if you had to rely on a forgetful giant to keep you alive, wouldn’t you want them to buy a kit to monitor your needs?
How much and when would I get it?
A single Helloplant costs €22 (~£20) for early bird backers, which the company claims is a 37% saving on the final RRP. If you want to protect more than one plant, you can buy two for €38 (~£35) or three for €57 (~£52). If you really want to go nuts, you can buy ten for €190 (~£173), but you’d have to really love plants to go that far.
Helloplant reckons the first units will ship in March 2018. Just try and keep your petunias alive until then, okay?
Is there anything else like Helloplant out there?
Yes and no.
When Helloplant was first being developed, Oberpeilsteiner tells me there was nothing really comparable on the market. We’ve reviewed the Parrot Pot before – but that’s a far more complete pot-package, and has a price tag to match. Parrot used to make something similar to Helloplant – the Parrot H2O – but it seems to have been discontinued.
Likewise, the Edyn garden sensor does similar things – but it costs more and is pretty hard to track down nowadays. There’s also this urn which grows a tree from the ashes of a loved one, but that’s obviously not a direct comparison either.
How risky is backing Helloplant?
As ever with crowdfunding, there is no such thing as a guaranteed product. The end result may not be what’s promised, might never see the light of day, or might disappoint in another way. Only pay what you can afford to lose.
That said, Helloplant seems to be in a good place. Not only is it being tested in the wild, but it’s a reasonably simple product with a sensible timeline for delivery. They also have some Kickstarter experience on the team in the form of Miriam Boubachta, who is in charge of marketing and PR.
“It was really important for us to make sure we could actually build the product we are advertising,” Oberpeilsteiner explains. “As you may know many hardware Kickstarter projects are late or fail to deliver because they have no idea what it means to mass produce a consumer product. We spent a lot of money, time and energy to make sure this does not happen to us.”
Green fingers crossed that’s the case.