It’s starting to feel like the Internet of Things (IoT) train is finally leaving the station, as more and more household appliances become Internet-connected with a smartphone app providing the User Interface/remote controller.
Taking cues from the same IoT playbook is Israeli startup Greenbox with its “cloud-connected smart irrigation system” (that’s a sprinkler controller to you and I). Pegged for a December launch but now available for preorder, the company is pitching itself as ‘Nest for the garden’.
Backed by $250,000 of funding from Kima Ventures after a failed Kickstarter campaign, the premise of Greenbox is a familiar story in the connected home space. It’s set out to bring the garden sprinkler kicking and screaming into the Internet age, replacing what is either a “dumb” device or one that, whilst Internet-connected, is crippled by a clunky User Experience.
“Current irrigation controllers are outdated, extremely unintuitive and frustrating to use,” says Greenbox co-founder and CEO Eyal Dior. “Plus, they are not connected to weather data, so when it rains the controller will continue to water unless you speed to shut if off. When you have a sunnier day than expected, the controller will fail to water unless you rush to turn it on”.
Not only does this mean that a garden doesn’t automatically receive the irrigation it needs, but there’s a lot of water wastage in the process. And in turn, unnecessary expense. To solve this problem, Greenbox, via its cloud-connectivity, is powered by location-based weather data. In addition, and taking a page straight out of Nest’s book, it’s self-learning, resulting in a claimed “up to 50%” reduction in water consumption.
“Greenbox has a simple interface with remote access,” says Dior. “It programs itself based on weather. It learns and improves over time, conserves water, saves money, and above all it will have a fun UX made for real people.” That UX, he notes, comes courtesy of modern and ubiquitous smartphone platforms like iOS. “Since the advent of the smartphone, home automation technology is booming indoors and accessible to the masses. The same need for automation exists in the yard,” he adds.
Greenbox’s business model is straightforward. It makes money directly from the sale of the physical Greenbox controllers, with the smartphone app being free and sans-subscription fees for the underlying cloud service. The company is currently offering an early-bird price of $219. Competitors to Greenbox include Cyber-rain, Rain Machine, and Weathermatic.