Talk to the Palm: Bringing a Classic Project to Life

Many of us fondly remember the physical computing project Botanicalls, which rose to fame in 2007. Created by Rob Faludi, Kati LondonKate Hartman and Rebecca Bray while at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP), and now sold as a kit via Sparkfun, it is essentially a moisture sensor that tweets. You assemble it, customize it (with the Arduino framework), and connect it to power and ethernet, and then place it in your plant. When the soil gets dry, it sends out a twitter message along the lines of “Please Water Me!”

We here at the Lab are following the trend of Quantified Self, wherein consumers are measuring more and more aspects of their lives and sharing them online. As we discussed people logging their runs, their weight and even their sleep, I decided it was high time we assembled a Botanicalls unit and put it to work for us, as a way to further demonstrate this theme. So we bought a little palm plant, assembled the kit, and here it is!

After we put the kit together, and customized it so it tweets about three times a day with its current moisture, we also updated it so it takes much more frequent measurements and stores them in a database. Moreover, we decided to create an embeddable iFrame so that you can monitor our palm plant for yourself. Simply add the following code to your HTML document, blog post etc.:

<iframe src="https://ipglabprod.wpengine.com/plant/iframe.php" frameborder="0" height="500" width="276"></iframe>

Also, you can follow the plant and our other gadgets that tweet at our dedicated QS twitter account: @Quantified_Self