MANGALURU: K Chandrahasa, a retired bank employee, and his wife Shobha will travel to the US early next year to spend time with their son. They were concerned about their garden at home in Mangaluru’s Bejai locality as there would be no one to water the plants. But a young couple in the neighbourhood came up with a solution to their garden woes.
Deepika and Santosh Shet, who are in their 30s, quit their IT jobs to set up a startup that provides quick solutions to the problem of watering gardens when people are away from home. When in the US, Chandrahasa can be sure that the plants in his garden and balcony not only get water on time, but he will also get notifications on his mobile phone on watering the plants.
The watering automation tool, developed by the Shet couple, runs on an IOT (Internet of Things) platform and can be controlled through a website or a mobile app from any corner of the world.
The invention is the result of the hard work and persistence of Deepika and Santosh, who worked on the tool for almost a year. The couple, who have loved plants since their childhood, realised that working couples in cities were reluctant to keep plants in balconies as they get no time to water them amid busy work schedules and while travelling. At the same time, work stress had started taking a toll on Santosh’s health and he was losing sleep.
“The IT job gave me everything. I worked and travelled across the world as a software developer at the mid-management level during my IT career that spanned over 15 years. But the last two years before I quit the job, I realised that I should not be here,” said Santosh.
The Covid pandemic and its fallout too had a role in his decision. For one year during the pandemic, he was alone in Ireland and missed Deepika and their daughter Adviti who was just a year old then. This added to his stress and finally, he decided to call it quits. Deepika, who had taken a break from her IT job to take care of their child, did not think twice before seconding her husband’s biggest decision of their life.
“I too was in love with plants. So I could not say no,” says Deepika who hails from Udupi. But life was not as easy as expected for the next several months as they sat down to invent the tool. It took a lot of time in coming up with the prototype of the water automation device and fine-tune it before coming up with the final product.
“The device needs to be left in the open exposed to rain and Sun. It was a challenge to make sure that water and air does not seep in. There were a lot of issues related to the circuit design. Finally, we did it,” said the couple with pride.
“Our mission is to make watering easy and at the same time reduce water wastage. Our model consists of a device connected to the Internet which in layman’s terms is an Internet-connected tap. This device has been fine-tuned to conserve energy. It operates on alkaline batteries that last for six months or more. The user is also provided with an app for his phone that notifies the user when the battery runs out or when the overhead tank is empty. In the backend, our website is used to store watering history. The main differentiating factor is the visibility of watering for the user. He/she can also remotely switch on or off the device. We are also developing algorithms that can do this based on the weather patterns,” says Santosh.
The device can serve the watering needs of large gardens or small balconies. The solution can be custom-made to fit all needs. Every house with plants has its own quirks. The start-up customises the water delivery to suit their needs. For instance, most houses do not have a water source on the balcony. For such houses, they have designed a water tank-based system.
The water tank can be (optionally) placed in a grand plywood enclosure to make it aesthetic. Most homes have RO purification units and AC compressors that can keep the tank topped up all the time.
The couple is also currently researching much larger models that can water agricultural fields with emerging technologies like LORA (Long Range). “Being able to keep plants alive with no manual intervention is nothing short of a magical experience for us. We enjoy doing what we do, and hope to leave the world a better place for Adviti,” says Deepika.
So far, the watering automation devices have been installed at five places in Mangaluru. There are enquiries from even the US but Santosh says they are not pursuing it due to issues related to customs. For details visit http://www.ukshati.com or dial +918861567365.