About this project
We have the technology. We’ve sent a man to the moon. So why are we still running in and out of the garage to see if our sprinklers are working? Lono lets you control your sprinkler system anywhere, anytime with your smart phone. And the things that should be automated, finally are.
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Control From Anywhere
Fixing a broken sprinkler head can put undue stress on our relationships – all that shouting and running back and forth from the garage. "Is it working? Which zone is on? Turn it off! Turn it off!"
With the Lono, you can turn your sprinklers on and off with your smartphone – whenever, wherever. Anywhere you have an internet connection you can control your Lono. This saves you all those trips back and forth from the garage when adjusting a sprinkler head or fixing a leak. It also allows you to make adjustments even when you are out of town.
Playing a little croquet this evening? Just hit snooze and the Lono will delay watering for a day. The Lono device has a snooze button too, so even if you can't find your phone you can always turn the sprinklers off.
Ever notice dry spots on your lawn, but can't be bothered to go into the garage and adjust the sprinkler controller? Just open the Lono app and tap up that zone a couple notches. Lono makes it easy to adjust your watering levels. It also sends you notifications and educational tid-bits every so often to help you improve your watering efficiency.
Instead of scheduling each zone for specific times each week, you just tell Lono when it is ok to water. For example: you say it's ok to water from midnight to 6 am on weekdays and Lono figures out the rest.
Lono then schedules each zone depending on what it needs. For example, a drip system may need to be watered longer, or clay soil may need to have the watering times broken up in order to give the water time to soak down into the soil. Smarter watering helps your plants to grow deeper roots and saves you water at the same time.
If you live in a drier part of the US like we do, you've probably heard news about water shortages. Water is a precious resource in limited supply, yet most people still overwater their lawns. Where we live, half our municipal water is used on our lawns. And that accounts for 2/3rds of our water bills! 1
We have great water saving features like seasonal adjustment, weather and temperature monitoring, and automated scheduling to ensure that your lawn gets the perfect amount of water year round. We estimate average water savings to be over 22% depending on location and current water use.
Our Lono controller works with existing sprinkler systems and new ones. It has wifi, bluetooth, a battery backup, display, snooze button, and slots for up to 20 zones all surrounded by a splash resistant case.
Overwatering doesn’t just waste water, it also hurts your plants by causing them to develop shallow root systems. Lono can use both historic and live evapotranspiration (yes, that’s a real word) data from your area to make sure you’re giving those plants just the right amount of water.
Lono can easily pay for itself in one summer. Most people use 22% - 70% less water on their yards right out of the box. That means lower water bills. It also qualifies for numerous government rebates depending on your water district. For example, our water district will rebate half the cost of the Lono.
If you have more than 20 zones simply install multiple Lono devices and they will work together to keep your lawn covered. You can still control them all under one account.
Your schedule is saved in your account online and on the device, so unlike some other controllers, if the power goes out you don't have to set everything up again.
Installing Lono with a new or older system is very easy. You'll need 3 things: 1) to plug it into a power outlet, 2) connect the zone wires, and then 3) connect it to your WiFi network. Setup is easy and your smart phone app will help you get up and running in minutes.
Building of the Prototype
Design & UX
When we approached the housing and app design for Lono our mantra was "ease of use!" We looked at the complicated interfaces on all the current devices and decided to get rid of those and use the great interface you're already carrying in your pocket– your smartphone. There is only one button on the device- a snooze button. Everything else happens in the app.
Then we looked at the process people have to go through to set up their sprinklers. We interviewed dozens of sprinkler installers, typical users, water experts, and we think we found a better way. Currently people have to go through each zone and program specific times (like Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for 30 minutes starting at 12:30 AM.) Imagine doing that for 20 zones!
With Lono, you just tell it once what times are ok to water. For example: you give the Lono the green-light to water any night between 12 PM and 6 AM. The Lono then auto-schedules your zones to make sure they each get the water they need. Then if you happen to skip a day or if it rains, Lono can just readjust the schedule accordingly. Ah, so much easier.
The app was designed so that you can quickly get to your zones and turn them on and off, so we put them all right there on your home screen.
2nd priority was to be able to quickly get to the zone adjust screen where you can quickly turn up or down the watering level for each zone. Many controllers have complex interfaces that make this fine tuning difficult. We make it easy, and you always have the final say in how much water each zone gets.
Development & Hardware
We wanted to develop this quickly so we used the Arduino platform. Our initial prototype is using the Arduino Uno R3. Lono includes bluetooth 4.0 (LE) so the Lono app will be able to recognize the device by proximity (no pairing required). This will make setup of the device a snap– especially on iOS 7 which has an API to automatically setup wifi access.
In production, Lono will use a custom PCB centered around a ATMega328 microprocessor. As a benchmark goal we want to add a custom 60 x 5 LED matrix that will display the current zone being watered.
We wanted to keep the hardware of Lono simple and straightforward. The majority of the intelligence is happening in the cloud. This will make it so that early adopters won't get left behind when we push out updates etc. Lono will also automatically update itself over wifi, so there will be no need for firmware updates and other such nightmares.
- 100k – Android version of the app.
- 125k – Manual control on device.
- 200k – Administrative features that allow you to manage multiple devices under different accounts, great for contractors.
- 260k – Mobile Web version of the app.
- 335k – Windows phone version of the app.
Our plan is to deliver by the first day of Spring (March 20). The schedule is to continue refining and testing the prototype until our kickstarter is funded. We're looking at a smaller initial run of under 10,000 for the molded parts to be produced here in the U.S.A. (Protomold) and we've found local vendors for the packaging, dye-sublimation printing, laser cutting of the screens, and pcb board printing.
Risks and challenges
Everything already works, the hardware is very straightforward, and we feel that at this point we are just ironing out the details in the user experience and making sure people can get wifi where their sprinkler controllers are. That said, our biggest risk would be that we would have to deliver late due to unseen delays in production. We've consulted with our vendors and we feel our timeline is well padded, but this is always a possibility.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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