The 2008 geek gadget gift guide: DIY Plant Twitter Kit

A cool kit to build networked sensors that help keep your plants alive

Why you must have it: You're busy, and your plants are getting thirstier and thirstier as you neglect them. What if they could let you know they need water? With Botanicalls' DIY Plant Twitter Kit, they can. When InfoWorld Test Center contributing editor Peter Wayner saw these at the ThinkGeek.com site, he immediately knew they belonged in the InfoWorld geek gadget gift guide. These kits let you assemble sensors that send out messages over an Ethernet connection to you via the Twitter service when they need or have gotten too much water.

Your chances of having the first one on the block: High, given the level of effort they take to put together and the fact that the Twitter version has been available for just a few months.

What you must know: These kits really do require assembly, down to the level of soldering on the components and tweaking the software code that determines how much water your plant needs, so you have to be an electronics geek to get them to work. The Botanicalls Web site has the complete instructions, complete with photos. If you're particularly savvy, you'll figure out how to establish a wireless connection so that you don't need to run cables to all your plants.

What you need: You'll need basic tools such as screwdrivers and pliers, as well as a soldering iron and solder. A kit costs $100.

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