For Pratyush Bansal and Aekas Singh Gulati, vacation time was all about visiting their respective grandparents in India.
The science buffs, who are students of Class 8 in the Global Indian International School (GIIS) in Singapore would spend days, sometimes weeks, away from home.
But, every single time, when they returned to Singapore, along with their parents, they would be greeted with the sight of plants that had withered away or were on the edge of dying.
After this had happened a few times, the duo decided to design an automatic watering system for plants.
The Better India got in touch with Pratyush and Aekas who, while in the middle of the exams, took some time out for a brief chat.
“Our innovation is designed for garden plants for now, especially for families who travel overseas and are worried that their garden plants would die in their absence. It works on a pumping technique using a motor. Almost 80% of the device is made from reusable and recyclable materials while the other 20% involves hardware like a motor and a circuit board,” says Pratysuh.
While Aekas wants to be a doctor, Pratyush is passionate about Computers, Science, and Math. However, the boys are united in their love for coding and software development and learnt complicated coding languages to design the programme of the self-watering system innovation.
It may be their first project together, but the success it has seen so far is indicative of what wonders they are capable of.
The system requires a hygrometer—an instrument to measure humidity in the air, a circuit board, a motor, and other hardware.
Aekas explains, “The hygrometer which is connected to the circuit board, is placed inside the soil, and once it detects dryness, it sends a signal to the circuit board. The board is connected to a motor placed inside a water tank. Following detection, the circuit board runs the motor, which pumps the water from the water tank into the dry soil through a pipe. Once the soil is sufficiently moist, another signal goes to the circuit board, which then stops the motor and in turn the pumping.
The entire device is made from recyclable materials like empty plastic milk bottles, straws, wooden boxes, and it costs just S$13 (About Rs 666) to make.”
A two-litre water tank is connected to the system by a water pump motor. The connecting pipe is left in the pot, and when the hygrometer detects less than optimum moisture in the soil, it lets the water pass through the filled tank.
The system can be connected to multiple plant pots and depending upon the water that they consume, the tank needs to be filled manually. On average, a single plant requires the tank to be filled every two weeks or so.
The duo also took a survey asking their subjects if they would be willing to spend about Rs 700 for a system that watered their plants while they were away and got a 90% positive response rate.
After the device was developed and displayed in exhibitions, Pratyush and Aekas were invited to showcase the model at the Young Innovators Programme at IIT Kharagpur.
“We are now trying to add a Wi-Fi enabled circuit board to it with GSM module which will automatically link our mobile phones to the device, and we can monitor the watering of our plants using an app,” Aekas informed PTI.
Elaborating on their application for domestic as well as agriculture use, the team said that on a small scale, the system could be used for garden plants, and if developed further, it can be scaled for agricultural purposes too.
“It will require all these materials to be amplified accordingly. A motor pump can be connected to a water source like a river, well or lake while pipes can be spread across agricultural land. A programme can be customised for the agricultural land, and the same process can be initiated on a far bigger scale,” they concluded.
Please note that the product is currently not available for commercial use.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)