The Plant Doctor: Smart Plant Pots

Are you afraid of gardening? Akin Yildiz talked to us about it. “I wanted to teach people about gardening… [but] they either did not have enough time [to do it], or they were scared they were going to fail.” He wanted a way to overcome those barriers, something that would make it quick, easy and also appealing to those who might not have considered doing it before.

Enter the "Plant Doctor." Akin created a device which emails you when your plant is thirsty, cold or too hot. There are several iterations of the Plant Doctor: portable versions that attach to your plant's pot and a much more complex miniature greenhouse with lights, irrigation and intelligence all built-in. 

When Akin started this project, he knew nothing about electronics. He is completely self taught.

His catalyst was a site named Instructables, which is a DIY wonderland. Through tutorials, Akin learned about wiring, computer chips and programming. He made sensors for the Plant Doctor, which can detect moisture and temperature, and then notify you based on its settings. “It’s surprisingly easy,” he told us.

This goes farther than selling a product, however. The Plant Doctor is open source, meaning the plans to create one of your own are available to the public. “This way,” he says, “someone in Thailand can 3D print my plant pot, and boom, they have it.”

At the 757 Makerspace, he teaches how to make them in person. It’s a double package – one both learns electronics and, through those electronics, learns how to garden. 

The possibilities are endless. When one learns electronics and programming, they can make whatever they want. Akin himself has since created many other inventions since the Plant Doctor.

He recalls working in the restaurant industry; there were huge wastes of food due to shortcomings with the fridge. At 3AM, the fridge often stopped functioning, and there would be no way of knowing. In the morning, one would be greeted with thousands of dollars worth of wasted food. He saw a need. Akin took the opportunity, using his temperature sensors and emailing technology to make a WIFI-based fridge sensor. It can notify the owner when the temperature rises to a dangerous level, so there is time to act.

Akin confesses, “It actually scares me where technology is heading.” Everything is automated, to a point where nobody knows how anything works. He wants to help others understand how things work, so that when things break down, all is not lost. In the future, you will either program or be programmed.

The 757 Makerspace is a testament to that notion. “None of this would be possible without help,” he says. A makerspace is a community workshop with all kinds of tools for woodworking, metalworking, 3D printing and more. It is the incarnation of the do-it-yourself mentality. Through it, he has been enabled to make his projects, and, in being surrounded by like-minded people, been given plenty of ideas and motivation.