PhotosynQ: Global Plant Health Tracker

by Greg Austic

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$0.00 pledged of $55,000 goal
backers
By Greg Austic
$0.00 pledged of $55,000 goal
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About

MultispeQ rendering
MultispeQ rendering

PhotosynQ is an open source online platform enabling crowd-sourced collection of plant health information using high-tech but low cost handheld sensors. With these tools, we're building a global community of sensor-enabled scientists, citizens, hackers, and educators capable of asking and answering important scientific and agricultural questions. Within the community we hope to connect individuals capable of taking high quality measurements in the field, with experts who have a need for high quality field data in real-time.

This Kickstarter is funding the V1.0 build of the MultispeQ, our high quality, low cost, hand-held plant health measurement device.

Ok, so what's the point?  Here's the big idea:

FIRST, ASK BIG GLOBAL QUESTIONS ABOUT PLANTS.  In the short term, we want to help researchers and citizen scientists ask interesting questions about plants.  They may be specific, like "how does the activity of my garden change throughout a season", or massively global like "how does satellite measurements of photosynthesis compare to actual measurements on the ground".

THEN, CREATE A MASSIVE, OPEN, GLOBAL DATASET OF PLANT HEALTH MEASUREMENTS.  If we have enough projects, we can create a consistent, comparable set of plant data from around the world.  Over time, this means we can track things like crop quality, pest outbreaks, climate change, and other global trends.  What else?  Well...

FINALLY, CREATE PREDICTIVE MEASUREMENTS FROM GLOBAL DATA.  Plant health data is complicated, and any single measurement doesn't necessarily tell you much.  However, with a large enough dataset and enough meta data (when was the measurement taken, where, what was the weather like, how much light, what type of plant, etc.), we can start to build algorithms to make sense of even single measurements.  So instead of saying "this tomato plant has a Phi2 of .54" which is to most people meaningless, we can say "given this tomato plant's variety/location/time of day/etc., it is not very healthy and probably needs water!" which makes a lot more sense!

You can see what we've already done in the beta test here, which included 200 participants from all over the world: plant scientists, agronomists, agricultural extension agents, educators from K-12 and university, farmers, citizen scientists and makers alike.  You can find even more detail on our blog. 

Since the start of the beta test, we've learned lots of lessons about how to improve the platform, the device (the MultispeQ), and the experience of PhotosynQ.  The V1.0 device has a massive list of improvements over the beta MultispeQ which are LISTED HERE (include link).  

ADD QUOTES FROM EXISTING USERS, 'POWER USERS', ETC.

Risks and challenges

Though we have already built and distributed a few hundred beta MultispeQs, creating hardware is never easy. There are always delays, surprises, and errors in scaling production. In our beta version, we built the entire device ourself which was slow, but controlled because we saw every device go out the door. This time we're going to outsource the entire production process to lower cost. This can introduce errors and delays if not managed with care.

Our team is experienced in building and scaling production and this isn't our first version of this particular device. The improvements on this device over the beta are incremental, so we don't expect any massive surprises from a design perspective. We will take the outsourcing seriously and have a travel budget to ensure the factory is producing them up to spec. We have already designed the calibration and validation specs and processes for the beta, so we know how to confirm that devices are ready to ship and we can transfer that knowledge to the new manufacturer.

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    Pledge $20 or more About

    PhotosynQ tee shirt

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    Pledge $175 or more About

    One MultispeQ device to take high quality, detailed measurements of plants. The MultispeQ is a high quality spectrophotometer with 8 LEDs and 2 detectors and the ability to measure ambient temperature, relative humidity, light intensity PAR (Photosynthetically Active Radiation), leaf temperature, and a wide range of photosynthesis related parameters. Specifically, photosynthetic activity (photosystem I and II), leaf chlorophyll content (SPAD), proton motive force (rate of production of ATP), non-photochemical quenching (NPQ), and more. This is a SERIOUS SCIENTIFIC INSTRUMENT at a fraction of the cost of anything else on the market! Use it in conjunction with the PhotosynQ platform to take part in local or global plant research projects in your lab, school, or your backyard!

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    Pledge $275 or more About

    One MultispeQ device to take high quality, detailed measurements of plants including a CO2 sensor! Otherwise, same as Reward 2.

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    Pledge $325 or more About

    One MultispeQ device to take high quality, detailed measurements of plants including a CO2 sensor and soil measurement kit! This allows additional measurements like soil biological activity (how 'alive' is your soil), soil active carbon or humus (how much easily available carbon does your soil contain?), and any other absorbance-based measurement you can cook up using our 8 LEDs. This includes the absorbance add-on, and starter set with directions (including potassium permangenate, cuvettes, syringes, etc.) so you'll be ready to take measurements out of the box.

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    Pledge $600 or more About

    Two MultispeQ devices to take high quality, detailed measurements of plants including CO2 sensors and soil measurement kits for each!

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    Pledge $3,000 or more About

    Three MultispeQ devices to take high quality, detailed measurements of plants including CO2 sensors and soil measurement kits for each! PLUS we will come for a 2 day training at your location to help you get up and running!

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