Not everyone has a green thumb, which is why we’ve seen a number of smart pots designed to make plant-care easier. One of the latest systems, known as Pico, consists of multiple mini-pots that can be electrically linked together.
Each Pico unit consists of a main pot made of BPA-free plastic, along with an aluminum-bodied four-LED full-spectrum grow lamp that’s mounted on a vertical telescoping stainless steel arm.
Users start by placing soil and a seed of their choice in the pot, then pouring water into the pot’s outer reservoir. Via capillary action, that water gradually seeps from the reservoir, through the porous main pot shell and into the soil.
In this way, the plant is continuously (but also gradually) watered from below. Users can check the reservoir’s water level through a window in the front of the pot, topping it up as needed – the designers claim that about once a week should be sufficient.
The lamp is initially positioned at its lowest height, right above the soil. As the plant grows, though, the arm can be extended to raise the lamp along with it. Its maximum height is 22 cm (8.7 in), so users will obviously want to go with smaller plants.
It should be noted that the lamp does not have a battery, so it has to be plugged into a separate power source using a USB cable. If a standard 5-volt/1-amp phone charger is used, up to three of the units can be daisy-chained together, with separate cables running between them. That figure rises to six units, if a 5-volt/3-amp charger is used.
In the basic setup, the LEDs come on as soon as the lamp is plugged in. There is an optional timer unit, though, that allows users to set the lamps on a preprogrammed schedule.
Each pot can simply be placed on a table top or hung on various vertical surfaces, using interchangeable magnetic, Velcro and wall-hanging mounts. If users want to utilize the lamps, though, they’ll have to stick to locations that are within easy reach of an electrical outlet.
Pico is presently the subject of an Indiegogo campaign, where a pledge of US$34 (planned retail $45) will get you a single unit – assuming the system reaches production, that is. A three-unit package can be had for $85 (retail $135).
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