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Droplet Could Save Enterprise Money with Cloud-Connected Sprinkler

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 2:58pm
Ben Munson

Without water there are no clouds. So it seems appropriate that a sprinkler could save water (and money) by leveraging the other type of cloud.(Image credit: Droplet)

The Droplet Robotic Sprinkler is a smartphone-controlled sprinkler/timer that uses real-time weather and soil sample data along with a huge plant biology database to decide when, where and how much water to dispense to grass, plants, shrubs and trees.

Droplet Founder and CEO Steve Fernholz describes the device set-up as something similar to a video game. After the Droplet connects to wireless to access its cloud-based intelligence, the customer uses a smartphone, tablet or PC to aim the sprinkler and answer basic questions about the kind of plants it’s watering.

“A combination of all these smart services and the Robotic sprinkler head itself really enables users to save a tremendous amount of water and still give their plants, lawns, potted plants or their dog bowl even, all the water it takes for them to thrive,” Fernholz said.

Besides saving water, the Fernholz said the Droplet’s energy costs only reach about 25 cents per month on average.

The Droplet is available for pre-order through Amazon for $299, with an estimated shipping date June 1, and Fernholz said it will start showing up in retail store in late July.

With the plans mostly solidified for the consumer version of Droplet, Fernholz said there’s also a commercial version in the works for larger-scale industrial operations.

“[The device] solves a great problem for the consumer space,” Fernholz said. “But if you imagine what this could become, especially if you look at agricultural use cases.”

Fernholz said he hopes to see the industrial version of Droplet help farmers make more money off their crops by allowing them to use less water to get the same impact.

The commercial version will likely sit down inside the grass, as opposed to the portable consumer Droplet that sits out in the open. Fernholz said any enterprise would likely not want to attract would-be thieves’ or vandals’ attention to the high-end smart device that’s watering the lawn or crops.

Design differences aside, a commercial Droplet will have the same goal as the consumer model, which is to save water.

Fernholz looks at water as becoming a much more valuable resource than it is now. But he said that’s not necessarily the case in many parts of the world and even parts of the U.S.

“It’s already becoming something people are more willing to put effort and money into actively managing and conserving it,” Fernholz said.

Water conservation isn’t necessarily a new goal but Fernholz said that Droplet wanted to approach the practice from a standpoint of making it easy enough that people would actually want to do it.

By using the cloud to process and keep up-to-date the massive data sets associated with weather, soil conditions and biological information needed to optimize water use, Droplet seems to achieve that ease of use.

Combine that with the potential to save resources and money, and Droplet could end up finding applications in not just agriculture but any enterprise with a lawn to water and a bottom line to think about.

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