I want to grow my own fruit and veg!Good for you. Niwa’s a device that can take pretty much all the trouble out of doing that.
What is it?Well, we’d describe it as a smart home hydroponic growing station. It’s a chamber that grows plants indoors using hydroponics, so there’s no soil involved. It features full climate control so lighting, heat and humidity are fully adjustable, as well as a controllable irrigation and feeding system, so it doesn’t even require a sunlit room. You can put it in cupboard if you want – but we think it’s perhaps a little too fetching to be hidden away.
And you said it’s smart?Yes, because it’s connected to the internet and, by extension, your smartphone. Using an app, you can control how your seeds are watered, fed and the conditions in which they’re grown.
And you don’t have to do this all manually, because the Niwa system has pre-programmed settings for most plants. Just tell your phone what you’re growing, and it’ll make sure they’re fed and watered correctly and kept at the optimum conditions.
READ MORE: Technology-infused plant can water itself
So I can’t control it myself?Don’t worry: you can override the automation and set up your own climate and feeding programme if you’re feeling bold and experimental.
How much stuff can I grow in there?There are six planting areas inside the full-size prototype unit (which measures 91 x 21 x 49cm), and Niwa’s makers say that’s enough to grow three to five tomatoes, two to three peppers and “one salad” every week. Other shapes and sizes are planned for the future.
And what kind of stuff?House plants, flowers, fruits, vegetables, herbs… almost anything that’ll fit inside. Root vegetables like carrots and potatoes will require a different tray, and the makers say this will be a future option.
And what’s the deal with availability?Niwa’s creators are currently looking for funding through Kickstarter, and certain pledges will secure the backer an early Niwa unit. Pledges of US$249 (£150) and US$299 (£180) for the a mini and regular size might be enough, if you’re quick enough. But don’t expect them to arrive at your door until May 2015.
READ MORE: Flower Power sensor takes root at CES