Kati London - a TR35 Young Innovator - is a senior producer at Area/Code, a company that creates games that interact with the real-world. For example, Sharkrunners - a game developed for the Discovery Channel- allows people to play marine biologists, directing research ships. The real world element are the game sharks, which are controlled by real great whites with GPS units attached to their fins.
But as a serial houseplant killer - I'm down to lucky bamboo and a few succulents - I'm more interested in London's "extracurricular" project Botanicalls. One of the main reasons that houseplants die is improper watering. Either too little or too much water can kill your plants.
That's where Botanicalls comes in. It's a home-made moisture sensor with an internet connection that posts status messages to Twitter - it can ask to be watered, note when you over water, and post a "thank you" for watering. There are full instructions on how to DIY or you can purchase a kit.
Of course it's not really very practical. It requires placement of your houseplants so that they have an internet connection handy. And you'd have to have a different setup for each plant. And you'd have to actually water when you read an "I'm thirsty" tweet.
I'll stick with my "finger inserted into the dirt" method, along with plants that aren't finicky about how often they are watered.
Photo: An orchid set up with Botanicalls by moleitau on Flickr. According to its twitter feed, it dried out completely on November 13th, 2009. RIP.