Because of course you're thinking about water conservation in your yard in the middle of winter.
In the struggle to balance the amount of water used at home for growing a garden, a lawn, or trees and shrubs, with the need to conserve this precious resource, one smart appliance could make a big difference. But let's face it, sprinkler controllers aren't nearly as sexy to most of us as electric cars or home battery systems or solar roads are, yet they are one of the most affordable and effective methods of conserving water at home.
I covered the launch of the original Rachio Iro sprinkler controller a few years ago, but now there's an updated option, as the company has just released its Generation 2 smart sprinkler, with one of its selling points being its integration with Amazon Echo and Alexa, which allows for voice control of the device.
"By extending the smart home into the yard, we’ve helped people conserve more than 500 million gallons of water since our launch in 2012. With the release of Generation 2, our mission is to help users save more than one billion gallons of water in 2016. Generation 2 builds upon the success of our flagship Iro model by providing more user-friendly functionality and sprinkler control, further empowering Rachio owners to take control of their landscaping via any smart mobile device." - Chris Klein, CEO and Co-founder of Rachio
The new design, which is offered at the same price point ($249), is said to be easier to install and test, to require less space, to include manual control from the box itself (you know, for those non-smartphone days), and to have an additional sensor port (for rain, freeze, or flow sensors), as well as be mounted outside with a custom-designed weatherproof enclosure.
But of course, unless you're a watering maven or irrigation wonk, the most exciting feature of the new Rachio Generation 2 is probably its ability to bring a long-awaited Star Trek computer feature to your yard - voice control.
"We are also announcing our direct integration with Amazon’s Alexa cloud-based voice service to allow for weather delay and zone control commands, simply by using their voice. This is the first direct integration of a smart sprinkler with Alexa and complements our partnership with Amazon’s IoT platform for simple and secure integration with the Alexa platform." - Rachio
The Rachio Generation 2 offers granular control over "every aspect" of a user's landscape watering, using smartphone, tablet, or laptop, and connects to other smart home devices and technologies, including IFTTT, Nest, Xfinity, Nexia, iControl, and more.
"Driven by intelligent, cloud-based software, Rachio taps into the user’s Wi-Fi network to analyze recent and upcoming weather and humidity levels. With this information, as well as personal soil types and lawn conditions, Rachio adapts to each individual yard, saving users water and money while giving them the beautiful landscape they want."
The device is currently available through the company's website, Amazon.com, and Home Depot, and will be available soon at Apple.com and Best Buy. The company also has a "Try It" feature on its website to give potential buyers a taste of what the Rachio Generation 2 is capable of.