8 November 2017

Canberra entrepreneurs preparing to launch world’s first multi-purpose gardening robot

| Glynis Quinlan
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The GardenSpace robots can monitor, water and protect plants. All photos supplied.

Two young Canberra entrepreneurs aim to revolutionise gardening next October when they launch the world’s first gardening robot to provide monitoring, watering and protection for at-home food growing all in one device.

James Deamer, 26, Ken Loh, 22, and their Canberra-based team reached their $25,000 funding goal within a week of recently launching their Kickstarter campaign, with backers from around the world set to take delivery of the ‘GardenSpace’ robots from October next year.

Their short-term goals are to raise more funding before the campaign ends on December 2 and then to refine the robots and organise for them to be sold through ‘big box retailers’. Long-term their goals are far greater.

“We are trying to be one of the world’s biggest food producers – we just won’t own any farms,” said Mr Deamer who ultimately wants to see “tens of thousands” of the GardenSpace robots in backyard gardens.

“We were driven to create something that makes growing food at home easy and adds to the availability of local, sustainable food sources,” Mr Deamer said.

GardenSpace is a smart garden system which uses a camera sensor to monitor plant health, automatically water plants, and also deter pests.

The GardenSpace camera sensor monitors health by determining how chlorophyll level, plant growth, and plant temperature change over time. The camera then sends precise information to the gardener via an accompanying app.

The camera sensor also measures plant water stress and automatically waters as needed. In addition, the visual sensor can detect movement made by animals and then spray the offenders with water – deterring them from their feast.

As well as enabling gardeners to remotely monitor and maintain their gardens, the app also sends them information on when to plant new vegetables and harvest growing ones.

“GardenSpace is for any gardener, no matter their level of experience or expertise. Our system lets you control your garden with the touch of a button,” said Mr Deamer, who is the CEO of GardenSpace.

He said that a single GardenSpace camera covers an area of up to 100 square feet – or enough space to grow $700 worth of produce every year. The camera has a 360-degree swivel and is solar-powered, meaning there is no need to use batteries or plug it in.

“The system is easy-to-use and requires a simple set-up. Users just need to connect GardenSpace to the internet, place it at the edge of the garden, and attach a garden hose. From there, it’s all set,” Mr Deamer said.

“Many other systems use probe sensors, which don’t offer the same level of accuracy as our visual sensor does. We’re taking technology proven to be effective in agricultural industries and applying it to urban gardening,” he said.

“We’re really excited to bring our smart garden system to the world, and hope consumers are as passionate about it as we are.”

Mr Deamer said he began working on the GardenSpace concept while studying nutrition at the University of Canberra.

His aim was to make urban food production – or vegetable gardening – simple.

“To do so I began with planter boxes that would email you when they needed more water. We pitched this idea to HAX who loved the vision but not the technology.

“So, we began working with ag-tech people and researchers and over 50 Canberra backyard growers to best match problems they experienced with the correct technology solution,” he said.

“After four months in China – with a team all from Canberra – for HAX we returned to Canberra and have been working from Entry 29, the start-up co-working space.”

Mr Deamer said GardenSpace is being pre-sold through the Kickstarter campaign for $239, while the retail price is $399. To date, 128 people have pledged their backing to Gardenspace, including 75 backers from America, 45 from Australia and scattered backers from a variety of other countries.

Mr Deamer said their start-up business has been globally-focussed from day one and the aim is to secure big-box retailers internationally.

To find out more go to the Kickstarter campaign page by clicking here. Below is a video showing GardenSpace in action.

Do you think GardenSpace is a good idea? Would you use the system?

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