Eddy the robot can help you grow vegetables hydroponically

Eddy the Robot
© Shani Sadicario -- Eddy the robot on display

He wants to teach you to grow the most delicious, nutritious vegetables you can possibly imagine.

Eddy is a gardener unlike any other you’ve met. Is there a bowl of strawberries from your childhood that you still reminisce about? A decadent tomato salad you once enjoyed while traveling in the Mediterranean? If you can describe those dreamy vegetal encounters to Eddy, he will help you recreate them at home.

Eddy is a cute little robot, less than one foot high, made of blue and black plastic. He (it?) sits in a hydroponics unit of any size and communicates details about the growing conditions to you, the grower, via an app on your smartphone. Using wireless sensors, Eddy will tell you the pH level, temperature, and relative humidity, detect contamination, and provide information for how to resolve problems.

Eddy© Shani Sadicario -- Eddy up close

But what’s really neat about Eddy is that you can tell him, via the app, exactly what you want in your food, i.e. calories, vitamins, flavor, appearance, etc. He can predict and steer the plant’s growth, by giving real actions to the grower to make that happen. As Eddy’s marketing director Karin Kloosterman told TreeHugger at a recent meeting in Tel Aviv:

“You can change the nutrient profile of the plant by knowing exactly what it needs to grow.”

In this way, you could grow vegetables that are best suited to fighting chronic diseases like diabetes, or you could recreate Anthony Bourdain’s delicious heirloom tomatoes.

An Israeli startup called Flux designed Eddy to “make hydroponics accessible to the average person.” His target audience is Millennials, many of whom are buying homes and starting food gardens. Hydroponics makes gardening accessible, but it requires proper chemistry to work. With relatively few experts in the field and those charging exorbitant fees for consultation, it can be hard for new growers to figure out what they’re doing.

Eddy's community© Shani Sadicario -- Eddy's app allows growers to connect with each other and share information.

Eddy smooths that process. In Kloosterman’s words, he represents the “democratization of information,” because he enables growers to connect with other growers nearby, receive tailored advice for their gardens, and access the crowd-sourced data that’s added via forums and passive collection. To make it even easier, Eddy is always learning, changing his behavior based on what growers learn and add to the database.

Eddy's sensors© Shani Sadicario -- Eddy's wireless sensors will change behavior according to protocols

It’s a fascinating concept that has potential to revolutionize our food system, making home gardens easier to grow, even in tight spaces with limited resources, and giving people control over what goes into their food.

Eddy will soon be shipped to the United States from Israel, where he is produced. You can find out more about distribution and sales by contacting Flux.

TreeHugger was a guest of Vibe Israel, a non-profit organization leading a tour called Vibe Eco Impact in December 2016 that explored various sustainability initiatives throughout Israel. There was no requirement to write about this project.

Tags: Food Miles | Food Safety | Food Security | Fruits & Vegetables | Gardening | Israel

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