**The Rise of the Smart Yard: ePlant Leads the Way**
For the past two decades, the Smart Home market has focused on enhancing home maintenance and security through the use of temperature, water, and movement sensors. However, a new trend is emerging – the Smart Yard. ePlant, a recently launched company, aims to capitalize on this growing market. According to CEO Graham Hine, yards have a significant impact on property values. In fact, reports from the National Association of Realtors suggest that landscaping can impact a home’s sale price by up to 30%.
**The Limitations of Traditional Tree Maintenance**
Maintaining trees in a yard has always been a complex and imperfect task. Homeowners would usually have to spend a significant amount of time learning about the symptoms of tree distress, but this method was often prone to errors. Additionally, using computerized systems to analyze tree pictures could lead to false indicators, as trees have a limited set of symptoms to express their ill health. Detailed measurements required elaborate arrangements of sensors, batteries, solar panels, radios, and antennas.
**A Revolutionary Solution from ePlant**
ePlant believes it has found an elegant solution to address the challenges in tree maintenance through the use of advanced AI. This innovative setup involves a simple one-eighth inch screw that can be mounted onto a tree, connecting to a sensor. The sensor detects micron-level changes in the diameter of the tree trunk. As the tree transpires water during its metabolic process, the diameter changes size, similar to a human pulse. This valuable data, combined with information about weather and irrigation, helps ePlant understand how trees respond to different events.
**The Power of Algorithmic AI and Machine Learning**
The data collected by ePlant’s sensors is transmitted via a long-range wireless network to an Internet-connected gateway. From there, ePlant’s AI systems come into play. By linking tree readings to atmospheric data and the responses of other trees, ePlant creates a sophisticated model of stimulus and response. This algorithmic AI is further enhanced by Machine Learning, which refines the model to predict the behavior of healthy and distressed trees.
**Conversational AI: Bringing Trees to Life**
What sets ePlant apart is its integration of generative AI with algorithmic AI. This combination enables the AI system to convert its outputs into engaging and conversational forms of communication. The AI engine can “speak” to homeowners about the trees’ conditions and specific needs. Homeowners can inquire about the tree’s response to water, risk of infestation, and more. By making the experience gamified and interesting, ePlant hopes to ensure that users remain engaged with the app.
**Exploring New Applications**
While others in the industry have focused on aspects such as lighting and sprinklers, ePlant has set its sights on measuring what grows. Besides tracking tree health, ePlant is actively investigating the addition of an accelerometer function to understand lean and the propensity for falls. Furthermore, the company is interested in exploring agricultural uses. Precision agriculture, such as monitoring water levels in vineyards to achieve the right degree of sweetness without overwatering, is a promising area of application.
**Expanding into Environmental Assessment**
ePlant also plans to expand its sensor technology for broader environmental assessment. The company aims to assess carbon sequestration, forest health, and the spread of diseases using sensors. While satellite data is currently used to monitor these factors, sensor-level information provides a unique set of variables for evaluation.
**The ePlant TreeTag: A Promising Product**
ePlant’s flagship product, the TreeTag, is available at a starting price of $149, including the service subscription. Its success will depend on homeowners recognizing the value it brings to their yards. As people increasingly prioritize the outdoors and environmental preservation, the bet is that consumers will be more willing to invest in devices that ensure their small corner of the environment remains healthy and thriving. Only time will tell if ePlant’s TreeTag becomes a staple in every smart yard.
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