A couple from Mangaluru quit their IT jobs to build an app-based automation system that can water plants remotely
“Most urban households struggle to maintain a garden around their house or even look after a few plants in their own balcony,” says Santosh Shet, who has more than a decade of experience in the IT industry under his sleeve.
“We also faced similar issues when we were working or travelling, and had a hard time maintaining a healthy balcony garden. So we started looking for a smart solution for people who don’t have time to water their plants regularly,” Santosh tells The Better India.
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Though he loved working with computers, had a passion for electronics, and was employed with several tech giants as a software developer for many years, Santosh eventually decided to quit his job to spend more time with his family.
He and his wife Deepika were optimistic about doing something on their own. After a lot of brainstorming, they conceived a unique idea of building an automated drip-irrigation system for providing watering solutions to urban gardens.
After working for almost a year, the couple developed a water automation system. It runs on an IoT (Internet of Things) platform that can be operated from anywhere, anytime using a website or a mobile app.
Love for innovation
Santosh says, “The IT job gave me a lot of great opportunities, but a few years ago I realised that it was time for me to switch my career. I had a tough time in the initial phase of the pandemic, as I was in Ireland and my wife and three-year-old daughter were in India. This made me finally call it quits.”
After leaving his job in early 2022, Santosh and Deepika spent months coming up with a solid and workable idea. But the idea didn’t hit them instantly, says Deepika, also a former IT employee who took a break from work to take care of her child.
“I remember around five years back, when I was pregnant and at my parents’ home in Udupi, Santosh was staying all by himself. I had a lot of plants on my balcony and I had asked him to water them regularly. But Santosh was extremely busy with his work and often forgot to water them. When I was back, I could only see wilted plants. This was when we discovered the watering issue for the first time,” she says.
The couple started working on conceptualising and implementing the idea together in April 2022. “It wasn’t easy to work on something from scratch. Deepika and I were in it together and had to face a lot of ups and downs,” Santosh says.
Deepika says, “We were finally able to come up with a working prototype by September 2022 and tested our product in the following months. Currently, we have a final product which is ready to be installed.”
App-based device to water plants remotely
Named ‘Ukshati Automation System’, Santosh and Deepika’s startup is all set to register as a private limited company. They say they are planning to apply for a patent for their product soon. Their “one-of-a-kind” device serves as a watering solution for both large and small gardens, including terrace and balcony gardens.
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According to Santosh, their major goal behind developing this device was to make watering easy for people and reduce wastage. “The device is a WiFi drip controller. In layman’s terms, it could be defined as an Internet-connected tap that allows people to water their plants on a scheduled basis,” he explains.
“It allows the user to set the time for watering the plants. They can also set the duration for which the plant should be watered. The device runs on batteries and can be controlled either through our website or through our mobile app, which also notifies the user of all the relevant updates,” elaborates Santosh.
“Users can store their watering history on the website and even switch the device — on or off — from a different location,” he adds.
Not just that, the couple also customises the water delivery system according to customer needs. “When it comes to balconies and terrace gardens, there is an issue of finding a water source. To tackle such issues, we have built a water-tank-based watering system, where the user can store water and use it accordingly. The device notifies the user when the tank gets empty,” says Santosh.
As a conscious step towards reducing water wastage, they have also developed a tank system placed inside a hexagonal wooden box. “The water from the RO purification units and AC compressors is often wasted. So, we set the tank in such a way that it is collected in the tank. This water is then used to water the plants, thereby putting it to better use,” he explains.
Mithun Bhat Kakunje, a businessman based out of Mangaluru, has been using the automatic watering system. He says, “I would say it is a high-quality device that has helped me increase the life of my plants. It helps me water plants on time effortlessly, especially when I’m travelling. The app constantly monitors the water level and battery status. I must say, it has made my life a whole lot easier.”
Currently, the couple has installed five such devices in Mangaluru, Karnataka and plans to come up with larger models of the device.
For more information and enquiries, you can contact Santosh Shet at 88615 67365.
Edited by Pranita Bhat