Don’t you have the green thumb?

A Google Glass app and illuminator allow researchers to analyze chlorophyll concentration in a leaf without harming the plant. Credit: UCLA

Schematic of custom-developed 3D-printed leaf holder and illuminator device. Credit: Bingen Cortazar et al./Lab on a Chip

My wife has a green thumb, she can transform our home into a forest for what I can see. Would she leave the plants caring to me, desertification would quickly ensue. I have always attributed this to some sort of extra-sensorial capabilities that you either have or have not.

Now it seems that technology can come to my help.

I read that scientists at the UCLA have invented a device that, supported by Google Glass can tell you the healthiness of a plant in a snap!

Today, to assess the healthy state of a plant botanists pick up a few leaves, dissolve them in a solution and then analyse the content of chlorophyll. This is considered a good indicator of the health state of the plant and it also provides indication on problems with the soil.  The whole process is lengthy, requires specific skills and a lab to carry it out (with expensive equipment).

The researchers at UCLA have invented a little box, that can be printed by a 3D printer, with a small circuits that basically controls two LEDs, one red one white. You pick up a leaf and ask Google Glass to take a look: "Glass image a leaf"!

A sequence of the leaf images illuminated by the device is sent to the application developed also at UCLA that in 10 seconds will return the information on the health state of the plant.  The whole device cost about 30$.

Among the information provided also the advice to water the plant... and that is what I would need. Not sure, though, if my wile would agree in having me picking up a leaf nor if she would trust me any better in watering the plants guided by this technology...

Author - Roberto Saracco

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