Plantasticraft: The Social Shrub

by Colm

IoT Development Social Media

Part plant, part software, @Plantasticraft is a plant in the Communicraft office that tells the World what it Needs.

@Plantasticraft - The Social Shrub.

The designers and developers of Communicraft have demonstrated a clear lack of green fingers when it comes to caring for our photosynthesising cousins. Many's our fine leaved friends dried up as we were distracted by some pressing matter of web technology.

How could we find a way to marry our love for technology with a little bit of TLC for those providers of Oxygen & Colour?

Enter our Social Shrub - @Plantasticraft.

As part of our IoT experiments, we placed a sensor in the earth of the plant's pot that uses resistance measurement to calculate the earth's moisture level, sending a signal via WIFI to a server that incorporates a simple IoT web application.

The application integrates with the Twitter API, sending it a message that is managed via a content management system.

The messages it sends are chosen from an array of possible tweets related to the level of moisture calculated in the plant's pot.

The system was put together by Communicraft engineers using simple circuitry - sensors, boards and switches, and programming.

The circuit comprises of 3 main components.

1) The arduino uno development board
2) A soil moisture sensor
3) An ESP8266 wifi module.

Firmware on Aduino
Firmware was uploaded to the arduino that polls the soil moisture sensor every minute for the electrical resistance. A HTTP request is then made to a URL on the Communicraft site. The ESP8266 module is used to connect to our internet wireless network. This provides the connectivity to the internet and the Communicraft website.

Webserver Software
We built a basic application in PHP to handle the values sent by the circuit and sending status updates to Twitter via integration with the Twitter API. Messages are managed in Expression Engine Content Management System as entries and are associated with a score. This software listens for requests from the device. It parses out the value from requests and converts this resistance value to score of between 1 and 10. A 1 Indicates too much water in the soil, a 10 too little moisture in the soil. A score between 5 and 6 indicates a happy plant.

Every hour the software checks if the current score and the previous scores are different. If they are,  a status update is sent to our Twitter feed using the Twitter API.  The status update is based on the score.

@Plantasticraft is a part of our Internet of Things research which we thought you might find interesting.

We continue to add to both the software and the hardware set up to give the plant more to talk about, and we'll keep this post update with details.

We've limited the tweets to a few per day (assuming the levels change).

Follow the plant on Twitter here..