Photos by Willie Vogt
CONNECTING WITH FOOD: The MyFood greenhouse setup is more than a nice building for plants. This is a smart greenhouse design that even farmers might like to try in their home gardens. It was popular at CES (the company had sold 15 by the time when it met up with Farm Progress). This is a "full life cycle" system that can capture rainwater, and it even includes permaculture bedded plants.
The hanging design maximize the greenhouse’s space, and in the center, buyers can opt to have an aquaponics under the vertical plants. The rainwater and added water flow through the vertical towers and into tanks below, where fish live. Nutrients from fish-filled water nourish the vertical plants, and bedded crops, too. This unit comes in many configurations ranging from $3,260 to $20,190, and installation is extra. Learn more at myfood.eu.
HIGH-TECH HEARING PROTECTION: The Saf-T-Ear product line from Etymotic expands with a wide range of industrial-focused products designed to protect hearing, including these new wireless earbuds for $399. These earbuds allow you to do your work but hear what’s going on around, an important safety issue. They also have a smart feature that quickly shuts off if there’s a fast, loud burst, providing enhanced protection. The company offers a wide range of sound-management devices. Learn more at etymotic.com.
SAFE STORAGE: This idea from Varna Tech started as part of concerns over legalized marijuana and ways to keep kids out of their parents’ stash — really. But developers hit on an idea that actually makes the handy home Mason jar an easy storage device. The Halo+ and Halo fit around wide-mouth Mason jars. The Halo+ has a digital solution that allows you to manage that lock with your smartphone as shown, so you can remotely lock and unlock that jar. The line launches this spring, and it’s an interesting way to store stuff you don’t want people pilfering more easily. Learn more at varnatech.io.
SMART FARMING TOOL: AgriTalk is a monitoring system that reports key information to the cloud. But in addition to sensors, the system includes predictive software to help you figure out when plants need attention. It includes a micro-weather station and real-time monitoring. Made by a company in Taiwan, the system is nearing the market; it’s launching in Asia, but the company has an eye on the U.S. market. Learn more at agritalktech.com.
EXPERIMENT IN MONITORING: This is not a product ready for market, but an interesting, real-time device being experimented on at the Nara Institute of Science and Technology in Japan. It is a real-time monitoring system for living plants that monitors physiological activity and growth information, and sends the data to the cloud. It can measure actual plant pore respiration to track plant health, which might offer some interesting data for predictive plant systems. It just shows the many areas technologists are looking to boost precision agriculture.
LOCK BUT NO KEY: The Tapplock system is a keyless lock that uses your fingerprint to open it. It has one year of battery life per two-hour charge — or 3,500 unlocks — and you can check remaining battery life through the Tapplock app. You can also share Bluetooth access remotely. Say you want to provide temporary access for the lock to another person, this app allows for that. There are several styles including a heavy-duty lock with added shank protection. You can even track lock usage and access through an overall dashboard for all Tapp locks you own. Learn more at tapplock.com.
TINY DRONE: The Timax drone from China tech firm Mobox is an interesting idea for a good selfie. It can be managed through a smartwatch or your smartphone, and even controlled with hand gestures. It can take that perfect picture from higher up as needed, or give you a video view on the watch farther than you can reach along. Note, this is useless for farm work, but we feature it here just to show how companies are looking at drone opportunities. Learn more at mobox.ren.
WATER FROM AIR: Watergen has developed a more efficient technology for generating clean water from the air. The system only requires reliable power to work, and will provide clean water in remote areas or in emergencies. The system uses an efficient heat exchanger to condense water. The Genny is the company’s smallest unit; it’s capable of producing about 8 gallons of water per day. There are larger units that generate more than 1,300 gallons per day for locations like remote villages or off-the-grid settlements. Got a cabin somewhere that you can get power to, but don’t want to dig a well? This may be your answer. Learn more at watergen.com.
HIGH-TECH SECURITY CAM: The SuperSecure provides artificial intelligence to closed-circuit camera security systems. It works with most CCTV camera systems, providing smart interpretation of what it’s seeing and alerting you when it determines something is wrong. The self-contained system is private, and requires no contracts or subscriptions to provide information. This product is still seeking funding, but you can sign up for updates at supersecure.ai.
FLYING CELL TOWER: This machine from Spooky Action is designed to be used for big events like concerts or athletic competitions. It has multiday flight capability and can beam information over a 4G LTE network, providing a long-distance view to spectators. This is a tethered drone system that can be powered by a generator, and, once airborne, provides added cell coverage. Whether this has value on the farm remains to be seen; but for areas that need a little boost to cellular coverage at key times of the year, this might offer an option. Learn more at spookyactionrobotics.com.
TEMP SENSING PHONE: Flir, a maker of infrared heat-sensing technology, has teamed with Blackview, a Chinese maker of Android-based smartphones, to develop the Blackview BV9800 Pro. It features a Flir camera that can capture heat signatures, so it has potential uses for outdoor enthusiasts, public safety advocates, and even farmers checking crops. The unit also comes with a Sony 48-megapixel camera, and has a big battery for long life and military-spec water protection. The unit also has GPS and Glonass satellite precision location. Learn more at flir.com.
TECH AND MOSQUITOS: In some parts of the country, mosquitos are carrying more challenging diseases. Elsewhere they’re just irritations that need control. The new Smart Eco-Friendly Mosquito Control System (SEMCS) was on display at CES. It features tools that make it a powerful attractant to mosquitos including CO2, light and heat to mimic a living person; and it attracts female mosquitos that transmit diseases (males don’t bite). Since mosquitos don’t travel far from their birth site, the system can create mosquito-free zones, because it disrupts the reproductive cycle of the population. It can be equipped with solar panels. Learn more at semcs.com.ua.
GAMING GARDEN MONITOR: The Plantio caught Farm Progress’ attention at CES because it was described as an “agritainment” tool. This small garden monitor (great for farm families with gardens) monitors moisture and other growth factors in the garden. Treat your garden well, and the system records you — giving you “tokens,” or the equivalent of a gold star for doing your job. It’s a teaching tool for managing a garden, and for parents or grandparents with young children who need to learn about plant care, it offers some entertainment. It’s from Japan. Learn more at plantio.co.jp/en.
VERSATILE SENSOR: The “internet of things” approach to technology offers a growing list of possibilities for tracking and monitoring specific areas. The Leap is a ready-to-go device that can be used in a number of ways to track devices, people, pets and more. The sensor is GPS-enabled and has satellite or cellphone connectivity. It can also use Bluetooth to connect to internet backhaul functions, depending on how it is used. The sensor has four “personalities” in its basic app: Activity sends a message and or location coordinates and time elapsed since the last movement, and works for equipment that may be moving abnormally; Geofence can send information when something moves beyond a range-defined location; A-OK allows a user out of cell tower range to send a predetermined text message simply by double-tapping the device — great for mountain hikers, or hunters in remote areas; and Proximity can sense proximity or loss of proximity to a user’s cellphone or other IoT devices and can be used as a Bluetooth tracker without a subscription. Learn more at innoware.com.
DNA AND YOUR EATING HABITS: This startup health company, DNA Nudge, actually encourages you to make healthier choices. The idea is that you provide a sample for DNA analysis, and DNA Nudge uses health markers to populate an app in a DNA report customized to you. It also then destroys your DNA sample. Using a wristband and the app, the system encourages you to make better choices based on your personal issues. This does not just say, “Eat healthy.” In a demonstration, a DNA Nudge representative showed how a user might choose a different kind of chocolate (suggested by the app) that had a better fat profile than an initial selection. That way, you eat more healthy without a total change, which can be hard to sustain. It’s an interesting use of DNA. Learn more at dnanudge.com.
SMART MEAT THERMOMETER: The Meater is an interesting product. It’s a wireless thermometer that communicates with a smartphone. You stick the probe into your favorite cut of meat, and it suggests the optimum temperature. Put that steak on the grill and monitor its temperature remotely — no wires. It uses Bluetooth to communicate with your smartphone. You can learn more at meater.com.
AUGMENTED REALITY: There was a fair selection of augmented reality glasses at CES. This pair was at a special event for Chinese manufacturers. These provide high-resolution imagery, offer voice recognition (for giving commands) and use gesture recognition and image recognition. The image is high-resolution 3D. In a demo, a user can see a 3D helicopter that can be controlled with hand gestures. The technology continues to advance. The glasses connect to the box by wire, and that box links to a computer. Learn more at pacificfuture.co.
FLYING CAR? This is the Pegasus flying car. If you have a driver’s license and a helicopter license, this could give you some amazing mobility. The company had this single-seat model at the show, but it’s in the process of designing a dual-seat — and even an 11-seat —design. The design requires no runway; it uses vertical takeoff. While it’s being pitched as a way for executives to get out of traffic jams, for farmers in remote country who want to move faster from place to place, it has potential. The company is still seeking investors. Learn more at pegasusfcintl.com.