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Plants Use Twitter to Tell You to Water Them 88

ptorrone noted a Make article about twittering your plants just in case you need that sort of thing in your life. And you do. He says "The gang from Botanicalls used one of Adafruit's new open source hardware ethernet shields for Arduino (open hardware too) to make some plants talk — and now you can too! That's right, having your houseplants Twitter you when they need water and more! You can see what one of the plants is doing now..."
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Plants Use Twitter to Tell You to Water Them

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  • by somersault ( 912633 ) on Monday February 25, 2008 @10:41AM (#22545346) Homepage Journal
    Their very own highly opinionated /. troll, complete with an infinite supply of hot air, a built in watering reminder, and an obstinate refusal to just die. If you want to make sure that the watering reminder works you must make sure not to leave any Microsoft related products around though, otherwise the ranting could distract him for days!
    • by cp.tar ( 871488 )

      Ah. So I was not the only one to imagine the horrors of a Twitter in every household.

      Imagine planting one (no pun intended) inside Microsoft campus...

  • by Himring ( 646324 ) on Monday February 25, 2008 @10:42AM (#22545362) Homepage Journal
    "Dude, roll me...."
    "Dude, nice roll. Not too tight on ends or loose in the middle."
    "Dude, you're burning me now. Huh, huh, huh...."

    • Hehehe.. it's like the UK police using YouTube to bust guys who record themselves speeding - recently they got one guy who was driving at 120mph while using one hand to hold the camera - not the most sensible thing anyone's ever done is it? In this case though, they could probably nab the owners of illegal plants if they're dumb enough to put up real pics :P
    • by joaommp ( 685612 )
      Talking about plants and your sig:

      "All great things are simple & expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope, pot."
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      After consuming the first batch, I am sure they'll start talking back to you.
  • tag: sensless (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    tag this one as "senseless"

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by joaommp ( 685612 )
      I was trying to think of some very intelligent or funny comment about this article.

      I got nothing.

      got to go now, my cactus is twitting.
    • tag this one as "senseless"
      Or "slashvertisement" or "spam" or "sock puppet" or "viral marketing"
  • by Malevolent Tester ( 1201209 ) * on Monday February 25, 2008 @10:49AM (#22545452) Journal
    We've got vegetables and fruits doing development.
    • by ChromeAeonium ( 1026952 ) on Monday February 25, 2008 @11:26AM (#22545850)
      If you can't grow anything, I suggest you get an Opuntia. I haven't watered a few of mine since early December, and they're fine. Of course, the glochids [] will make your life miserable if you touch them, but they're still pretty cool and most species are fairly easy to grow (not all easy though; O. microdasys and some others can be hard). As long as the soil drains and drys quickly, you don't overwater it, and it gets enough light, pretty much anyone can grow one. If you can't grow an Opuntia, you probably can't grow anything. Everyone on Slashdot should have an Opuntia.
      • Are you keeping edible varieties? And if so, how often do you harvest?

        I've got a couple of cacti at home, but none at the office. The only plants in my cube are cuttings from our leased philodendrons, and a lonely aloe plant grown from cuttings of the one that lived with me at my last consulting job.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          One of them (O. ficus-indica) is edible, but since I just got it about a year ago as unrooted pads, really I don't know how often it will set fruit. If you really want to know, you can ask people wiser than myself on this forum [] or this one. [] If you didn't already know, you can also eat the young pads of some Opuntia species, provided you've passed them under a flame to burn off those darned glochids.

          For office plants, I'd suggest getting something cooler than a philo to keep your aloe company, like maybe
      • If you can't grow anything, get an artificial plant. Or switch to collectables. []
        • If you can't grow anything, grow weeds. Why, do you ask? Simple. They are tough sun of a guns. I am now testing the hardiness of some weeds from my garden. I devoid them from light and water but the tough suckers simply won't die. And I have been doing this for more than a week.

          Weeds, because they simply don't die.
  • In Binary? (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Feed Me Seymour!
  • by sacremon ( 244448 ) on Monday February 25, 2008 @10:54AM (#22545518)
    ...why not have it hooked into a watering system directly? That way all you need to do is make sure the reservoir has water in it. Seems a lot less intrusive, and you don't have any potential phone bills from your plant.

    • I was already thinking it would be much easier if you just had it water itself when it was thirsty. No need to run a cable anywhere that way.
    • by Shino ( 1136081 )
      The actual mission is to improve the communication between human and plant.

      Who knows what would happen if you'd make the plants independent from the humans..
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by sacremon ( 244448 )

        The actual mission is to improve the communication between human and plant. Who knows what would happen if you'd make the plants independent from the humans..

        Ah, hence the slippery slope. Eventually someone will figure out a way to get plants to post to Usenet, and from there you'll get a bunch of pistil porn and flame wars about the size each other's e-stamen...

    • not to mention that having the plant need water when you're away seems like a like useless since there is not much you can do except know that you're plant needs water. my way of dealing with things like that is to a) water my plants each weekend and b) water my plants before leaving for any extended period of time.
    • Because then you can't get it posted on the front page of Slashdot.
    • Perhaps you don't set up an automated watering system is because of the trouble of running piping to plants scattered around the house? If you opt for a local reservior to avoid the water piping then you'll need something to let you know the water level is too low. That means back to square one with getting notified.

      Let us know how "intrusive" having water pipes/lines running to all your houseplants is. Especially for people in apartments.
  • Hard plants (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ChromeAeonium ( 1026952 ) on Monday February 25, 2008 @10:55AM (#22545528)
    They used an ornamental pepper and a pothos? They're simple, just water them every week or so. What would be impressive is if they worked a system for a hard plant, like a Pseudolithos, that would take humidity, time of year, soil type, ect. into consideration when telling you when to water.
    • by Lumpy ( 12016 )
      they already have such systems for them, They range from simple (Bright red LED blinking in your plant), to advanced systems that sms your phone. far more effective than the silly design in the article and commercially available.
  • by techpawn ( 969834 ) on Monday February 25, 2008 @10:57AM (#22545546) Journal
    People talking to their plants... but their plants talking to them? What is this Soviet Russia?

    If my plants start talking to me it means I need to go away for a little vacation...
    • If my plants start talking to me it means I need to go away for a little vacation...

      Usually when plants start talking to people it means they've had enough and it's time to lay off for a little while ...

      In this case a vacation may be warranted so long as the subject takes a taxi to the airport and does not attempt to operate a motor vehicle him/herself.
    • Going on vacation is not gonna help now that they can text you too .. you would have to go live in an Amish community or a monastery.
  • by Biotech9 ( 704202 ) on Monday February 25, 2008 @11:01AM (#22545572) Homepage
    I've got no electronic/IT background at all (I'm a lab tech), but even I could mess around with an arduino and get it to work. My GF is using one in an art project to have bag that analyses RFID tags from supermarket food and change the appearance of the bag depending on how ecologically you shopped.

    I'm thinking of trying to use an arduino and my home music/movie server PC to make a cheap version of Philips 'Wake up light' []. I was thinking of using it to control a stepper motor hooked up to a dimmer switch, but maybe someone here (with real electronics knowledge) can hint at a better way to do this?
    • by jrumney ( 197329 )
      Use a triac [] to build your own dimmer circuit and control it directly.
    • I've been considering getting one of these for use as a build tool.

      Eons ago, Slashdot had an article on using lava lamps as part of your build control process []. The idea was that if the build broke, the lava lamp of the developer who broke was switched on. Since lava lamps take a while to get going, you had about twenty minutes or so to fix the build before everyone started noticing what was going on.

      Now I thought about doing the same with an Ambient Orb []. A spot of searching suggests I'm not the only o
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by evanbd ( 210358 )

      Certainly, though the details depend on the kind of light; since you say a dimmer, I'll assume you mean a normal 120V incandescent. It would be easier with LEDs or low voltage DC lights, harder with fluorescents.

      Warning: this is a high voltage circuit. Don't kill yourself, observe normal precautions, etc. Mistakes might well fry you or the circuit. Also, in an effort to keep this as simple as possible, the wiring will not be to code -- as in, both sides of the light bulb will be potentially "hot", so

    • by dasunt ( 249686 )

      I'm thinking of trying to use an arduino and my home music/movie server PC to make a cheap version of Philips 'Wake up light'. I was thinking of using it to control a stepper motor hooked up to a dimmer switch, but maybe someone here (with real electronics knowledge) can hint at a better way to do this?

      Cheap X10 controller, cheap X10 light dimmer switch hooked up to the lamp you want to control (I think the LM465's should work, but I've never used them). Ebay's probably the cheapest source. Ignore the ar

    • If you've got no electronics experience, DON'T USE a triac!

      A triac is an extremely fast electronic switch which is used as follows:

      1) You monitor the AC current. Specifically, you notice when the sine wave crosses zero volts (120 times a second).
      2) You then turn on the AC power sometime *after* the zero crossing occurs, but before the next crossing, where you turn it off again.

      With the right timing, you let only a portion of the AC current through, which results in less power - effectively dimming the light
  • by Urger ( 817972 )
    My plants are made of plastic you insensitive clod!
  • by J4 ( 449 )
    Okay, today I saw in order:

    1) Tabletop home aeroponic "herb garden"
    2) Upside down hanging "tomato" grow bags

    Now this?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by techpawn ( 969834 )

      1) Tabletop home aeroponic "herb garden"

      I actually have one of those [] in my apartment. It's really neat. The light is on an 8 hour timer and the water pumps up into the sponge the different plants are growing into. It adds a unique aesthetic to the apartment as a whole and the artificial sun works better than an alarm clock sometimes both on when I should head to bed and get up.

      It will be nice to have fresh herbs.

  • by idiotnot ( 302133 ) <> on Monday February 25, 2008 @11:08AM (#22545632) Homepage Journal
    'cause water is from the toilet. Brawndo []'s got what plants crave. It's got electrolytes.
  • by wonderwidget ( 625200 ) on Monday February 25, 2008 @11:18AM (#22545748)
    From Twitter
    URGENT! Water me! 06:29 PM February 22, 2008 from web
    Water me please 06:27 PM February 22, 2008 from web

    Yeah, that's just what I need - a needy plant pinging me every couple minutes.

    When are you coming home! 06:31 PM
    Does this vase make me look fat? 06:32 PM
    Why are you ignoring me?!? 06:32 PM
    We need to talk. 06:35 PM
    You know what you did! 06:36 PM
  • Is that device basically a moisture gauge that calls you? If so, your plants aren't saying shiat. Keep playing the Mozart though, they like that.

    Botanicalls was developed to provide a new way for plants and people to communicate in order to develop better, longer-lasting relationships between them.
    People can have relationships with plants? I suppose The Professional [] comes to mind now.
  • As if millions of twitters suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.
  • Worst title I've seen in years... I'll let other people make the jokes

    Except this one: Perhaps they should have named it 'Erris'
  • That's really cool, and similar to something I was thinking of doing. However, I'd probably just use this nifty little board as it has the AVR and Ethernet already on it: []

  • Am I the only one who had no idea what this article was talking about? I had never heard the word "twitter" before, except possibly as a verb that small birds do, so the entire summary made absolutely no sense to me..

    • You must be about the only one, yes. Twitter [] is one of the best-known web 2.0 thingies. Not that you are missing anything, mind you.
    • I was going to point out the obvious sexual connotation, but I think the already existing site does it best.

      From the [] homepage:

      A global community of friends and strangers answering one simple question: Who are you doing?
  • So now all that needs to be done is write a stage play based off of a plant that constantly says "Feed me" and we'll be made men!
  • Twitter is down, like, half the time [].

    How long until the first lawsuit from a disgruntled plant-owner whose plant died because he was waiting for a tweet that never came?

    (Note for the humor-impaired: I keed, I keed!)

  • When I read that some geeks had found a way to get plants to "twitter" them, I feared the worst. Thankfully, "Twitter" is apparently just a universal instant messaging service [].
  • by Quiet_Desperation ( 858215 ) on Monday February 25, 2008 @12:37PM (#22546780)
    6am: Huh?
    7am: Photosynthesizing
    8am: Photosynthesizing
    9am: Photosynthesizing
    10am: Photosynthesizing
    11am: Photosynthesizing
    noon: Photosynthesizing
    1pm: Photosynthesizing
    2pm: Photosynthesizing
    3pm: Photosynthesizing
    4pm: Photosynthesizing
    5pm: Photosynthesizing
    6pm: Photosynthesizing
    7pm: The dark! The dark! Oh woe! Do not go gentle into that good night! Rage, rage against the dying of the light!
    8pm: no activity
    9pm: no activity
    10pm: no activity
    11pm: no activity
    midnight: no activity
    1am: no activity
    2am: no activity
    3am: no activity
    4am: no activity
    5am: no activity
    6pm: Huh?

  • I've been in embedded HW/SW for 35 years. "Ethernet shield" - what is that???
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by anotherone ( 132088 )
      Arduino is an open hardware project. It consists of a base board with certain capabilities, and you can buy (or build) "shields" to add capabilities to the basic package. The ethernet shield for example adds ethernet capabilities to the thing.
      • But what is a "shield"???? Maybe a "board" mis-translated?
        • No, it's called a shield. You're right, it's just an expansion board, but they call it a shield.

          I guess because they sit on top of the board and "shield" the processor? I don't know.

          Here are some pictures that might clear things up: Shields []

  • If my plants need to twitter me to ask for water, I've got bigger "what happened to all the water in the aquarium?" and "are my fish only good for fertilizer now?" (pair of amazon swords and a half dozen tetras sitting on my desk).
  • LSoH (Score:2, Funny)

    by Hillgiant ( 916436 )
    Feed me Seymour! 11:47am February 25, 2008 from basement.
  • Feed Me! []
  • The use of communicating sensors has been broadly discussed for "commercial" agricultural applications, including:

    Netting it out: wireless sensors have been important and becom

  • At the end of each week it says "feed me more gas". And if I dont it makes aloud sputter and stops moving.
  • At $150.00 per unit (cost of materials) it is cheaper to just let your plants dies and replace them like I do. Or you could just buy plastic plants...
  • by SuperBanana ( 662181 ) on Monday February 25, 2008 @03:53PM (#22549694)
    The Adafruit "shield" uses a $50 (yes, $50) Xport module, which is anything but "open source".

    So. $10 for the circuit board, $50 for the module, and then another $30-$40 for the Adruino board.

    That's $100 not including the cost of a wall-wart power supply ($10+), ethernet cable ($10-20) and an ethernet port (a couple more dollars- you can get hubs pretty cheap these days)

    You could easily hit $150-200 on this project for just getting to know that 2 of your plants need water, something you can figure out by sticking your fucking finger in the soil each morning.

  • by autophile ( 640621 ) on Monday February 25, 2008 @04:11PM (#22549926)
    Wake up. 5:30 am
    I said, wake up. 5:31 am
    Feed me. 6:30 am
    Feed meh! 7:30 am
    Feed me again. 7:40 am
    No, not that, get me treats. 7:41 am
    Feed me. 8:00 am
    URGENT: Litterbox is full. 8:15 am
    Piss off. 8:30 am
    URGENT: Litterbox is rank. 8:31 am
    Hey, where are you going? 8:32 am
    Why are you going out the front door? 8:33 am
    Feed me? 8:34 am
    Feed me? 8:36 am
    (sleeping) 8:38 am
    (sleeping) 12:01 pm
    (sleeping) 4:30 pm
    (sleeping) 6:00 pm
    HI! HI! WELCOME BACK! PET ME! 6:02 pm
    Feed meh. 6:03 pm
    URGENT: Litterbox is REALLY rank. 6:04 pm
    I did not knock that over. 6:05 pm
    Why you always can has blame me? I are too cute. 6:06 pm
    Piss off. 6:10 pm
    (sleeping) 6:11 pm
    (sleeping) 9:00 pm
    (sleeping) 12:10 am
    Knockin' stuff off the countertops. 1:05 am
    (sleeping) 2:00 am
  • Now if we integrate that with an IM-like notification system we make real life one step closer to strategy games. I can already imagine how it looks like when you come back from a holiday and you forgot to check the "repeat assignment" box when you told your son to water the pants if neccessary:

    "2008-08-12 17:49:50 [PLANT WATERED] The Coleus needed water and has been watered by Zachary."
    "2008-08-12 17:49:50 [CHILD HAS COMPLETED ALL ASSIGNMENTS] Zachary has completed his assignments. His assignment queue
  • Are they asking for Brawndo?
  • It's not plants telling when to get watered/fed etc. It's humans simulating (guessing) what plants need and "imposing" it to plants.

    If you read the book "The Secret Life of Plants" (or get a chance to watch the movie - "perhaps" can be found online) things may look different under that aspect.

    It was actually tried - as documented in this book - to put sensors on plants and let THEM trigger when to get watered or to get light. Source: Reports of the USSR Academy of Sciences for 1959, "Kamaranov" published "
  • I got this thing hooked up to my plant and it actually started singing:

    Better wait a minute.
    Ya better hold the phone.
    Ya better mind your manners.
    Better change your tone.

    Don't you threaten me son.
    You got a lot of gall.
    We gonna do things my way.
    Or we won't do things at all.

    Ya don't know what you're messin' with.
    You got no idea.
    Ya don't know what you're lookin' at
    When you're lookin' Ya don't know what you're up against,
    No, no way, no how.
    You don't know what you're messin' with,
    But I'm
  • This setup + twitter + internet controlled watering/lighting system = remote weed growhouses with minimal work. NICE!

Always leave room to add an explanation if it doesn't work out.