Today’s a big day for us here at gro.io. After almost three years of development, it’s time to come out of stealth mode and introduce our smart and connected hydroponics platform to the world. We hope you think it’s as great as we do, but we expect that as with any new product you’ll have questions.
Let’s start with the most obvious one. What exactly is gro.io?
The short answer is: it’s an automated growing platform that combines a powerful computer with sensors, valves and pumps, making it super easy for everyone to grow hydroponically.
Our goal was to build the smartest hydroponic growing platform imaginable.
We started by developing the brain of the platform, which is a combination of proprietary hardware (gro.Hub) and custom-built software (gro.OS).
After choosing to run our platfom on Linux and powering it with a 1-GHz ARM microprocessor that is 45 million times more powerful than the navigational system on the Apollo spacecraft, we then embedded everything that is needed to have great grows: smart sensor technology, intelligent automation, adaptive dosing algorithms—the works.
Of course it’s also a fully connected platform.
In addition to offering an intuitive mobile app that lets you manage your grows, we’ve also built our own cloud-based notification service (running on Amazon Web Services) that can keep you connected to your grow wherever you go. Plus, our Over-The-Air (OTA) Update Service will ensure your system stays updated with each new software and feature release. And, in case you were wondering, both the OTA and Cloud Notification Services are free and always will be..
On the automation side, we focused on making it as simple and as easy as possible to grow hydroponically.
We divided our automation processes into two categories: 1) water movement and 2) water chemistry. Both are time-consuming but critical for the best growing outcome and the greatest yields. Anyone who’s grown hydro knows the headache of keeping pH and nutrients balanced and has probably skipped a week or two of proper water flushing. Fortunately, with the gro.io platform, those headaches are gone, replaced by what is essentially a smart growing robot—just without arms and legs. Maybe we’ll add those in v2.0. Automated trimming might be cool.
We think it’s time someone offered a fully integrated hydroponics system for home growers, don’t you?
When we looked at all the stuff needed to grow hydroponically, we realized no one offered a truly complete system. You have to buy buckets from one vendor, lights from another… it’s not just annoying, it’s confusing. What exactly works with what?
With gro.io, we took the opportunity to step back and consider this question: “What do growers really want and need?”. The result is a complete and integrated growing system that doesn’t just work… it works really damn well.
But we also think the best systems are open systems.
You don’t have to use our buckets or our smart lights (but you should check them out because they’re seriously awesome), and we’re never going to force you to buy only our nutrients or supplies. Who hasn’t been annoyed by things like overpriced deskjet ink cartridges or proprietary coffee capsules? Our intention with gro.io is to help people become better home growers, foster collaboration, and deliver the best value to our customers.
The power of an open platform is that users can directly build on and improve it. We feel pretty comfortable saying that our components are the best, but you may already have stuff of your own and that’s fine too.
The coolest part isn’t even why most people will buy it.
Killer automation, smart dosing, text message alerting… it’s all really cool, but do you want to know what the coolest part of the platform will be? The data.
By offering growers an integrated growing platform with built-in data collection, we have the potential to disrupt growing in ways never imagined. Think about this. Every gro.io system is a complete mini labratory, waiting for you to conduct small-scale tests or connect with the rest of the growing borg and participate in massive, crowd-powered experiments. With gro.io, we now have the opportunity to test and prove (or disprove) every growing theory, internet legend and vendor claim ever made.
I could go on for hours about the limitless opportunities that a smart, connected, and data-driven hydroponics growing platform offers, but instead I’ll leave that for future posts.
Now, who’s ready to grow smart?!