New player in cultivation sensors Planthub makes market entry
You probably haven’t heard of the Planthub before - that’s because it has only become available recently. Nevertheless, mainly growers and companies dealing with sensors and climate control would value this news, because this new, stand-alone system for wireless monitoring of light, temperature, humidity and EC might just stir up the market.
Like most inventions, here too it's a matter of combining circumstances and techniques in such a way that something new is created. "Sensors are now very cheap", says Mark Keulen, owner of Seedcare and together with Jeroen Beemster the creative brain behind the new Dutch company Planthub. And that was perhaps their most important discovery: "Online you can order very simple, shockingly cheap and high-quality sensors. They found sensors that could measure light intensity, temperature, air humidity and EC accurately for less than $ 20 each."
A good example of the very rapidly advancing technological developments, but now comes part two. The consumer buys such a sensor and sticks it in a pot at home, but even a small grower does not have one, but thousands of pots. To get a good overview of the plant conditions, he therefore needs several sensors at different locations in the greenhouse, which he also needs to read remotely. To this end, the data of the various sensors must be collected and software must be available to make this information accessible to an end user. "What we actually did is exactly that: hacked the sensors, built small computers and wrote the software."
The 10 sensors communicate via Bluetooth (up to a distance of about 10 meters) with the computer, called the Planthub remote. The various Planthubs then use LoRa (a radio signal) to send data to a central Planthub, the Planthub-base. Hence, data is sent to a personal website, the Planthub portal, which is again accessible by logging into planthub.eu. The sensors themselves, but also all used communication techniques, already exist: by far the most work was (and is) in the development of the software. This software is written by Jeroen Beemster, friend of Mark and self-employed in IT.
Now that Mark has been playing with it for a while at his own company, the gentlemen decided a month ago to go public with it. The launch consisted of going live with the website, making a video (below) and posting a short article on LinkedIn. Whereupon, says Mark, customers from different corners of the world responded immediately with enthusiasm.
A lot for little
The system is stand alone, which means: For the time being it cannot be linked to other (climate) systems. That is why Mark expects that it will mainly be appealing for smaller companies. "Large companies often have already invested in sensors and climate systems and in many cases these parties have already realized links between sensor and computer. For the grower who has not yet taken that step, it can be a real solution, precisely because in this way you can get accurate and very cheap insight into a small scale cultivation. A starter package consists of 10 sensors, a Planthub-remote and Planthub-base and access to our Planthub for one year."
Whether Planthub will be a pioneering success, of course remains to be seen. On the one hand, it only 'works' if the user himself has affinity with it. You have to enjoy it a little bit, Mark observes, and you must be willing to study a bit into the how and what of the plant and the climate. "If you want to register a lot of reliable plant data in a simple way and be able act on it, and at the same time do not want to spend a fortune, we offer the solution!"