Auckland-based Autogrow has created a talking automated growing system through the virtual assistant capabilities of Amazon Alexa, backed up by the provider’s IntelliGrow application programming interface (API).
Headquartered in Mairangi Bay, Autogrow provides intelligent hardware, software and data solutions for single compartment environments through to large-scale fully-automated greenhouses.
According to the provider, the technology ranks as a “first ever” in terms of a talking automated growing system.
“We think this is the best use-case of artificial intelligence today,” Autogrow CEO, Darryn Keiller, said. “We’ve basically turned a vocal sound into a machine command and proven integration of different systems is possible.
“We have done it with Alexa, but we can also integrate with a growers HVAC [heating, ventilation and air conditioning] or lighting system. The possibilities are limitless.”
According to Keiller, Autogrow has been exploring the benefits of leveraging voice activation technology for some time, with the deployment triggered by a conversation with one of the company’s growers.
“One of our growers noted how modern apps like Apple’s Siri allows you to interact and how great it would be if he could ask his controller to update him on his crop environment but also instruct it to take action if required,” Autogrow CTO, Jeffrey Law, added.
“Our solutions architect, Lee Dunn, relished the challenge and chose Amazon’s Alexa Voice Service (AVS) due to their commitment to enable developers to voice-enable connected products.”
By connecting with Autogrow’s API, Alexa can answer a variety of questions related to readings from Autogrow’s Intelli range of products including EC, pH, humidity, temperature and light as well as force a nutrient dose.
“This is a new tool we can build on to give our growers more flexibility and control in their business and from here, the possibilities are limitless,” Keiller added.
“At the heart of it, our burning drive is to help producers of crops grown in non-outdoor environments produce more yield, better quality crops, all year round.
“They can then generate more profit, enabling them to produce crops that the consumer wants, and when they want it.”
Founded in 1994, Autogrow has growers and resellers in over 37 countries, utilising a team of software designers, engineers and horticultural technology experts to drive innovation through the sector.