2013-05-31

Find Out What Your Plants Are Really Thinking With This Camera

How do you know how your plants are doing? You feel the dirt? Maybe you give them a little more water? Infragram is an infrared camera that can give you a real picture of the health of your vegetation.

Infrared photography lets us peer into the "secret world" of plants, to understand how healthy they are.

Governments, farms, and vineyards have used the technology for years, mounting equipment to satellites and planes. But it’s been too expensive for common men. The lives of plants have remained secret to all but a few.

No longer. Now, for as little as $10, you can get an infrared camera all your own, and start taking lovely pictures like these ones. You’ll never look at plants the same way.

The Infragram, which is now on Kickstarter, is a project of the Public Lab, a group of tinkerers and citizen scientists. They are offering three products: a filter kit for your existing camera ($10), a webcam you plug into your laptop ($35), or a full Infragram Point & Shoot ($95).

Infrared photography works by making a composite image of visible light and near-infrared light. Plants absorb blue and red light during photosynthesis, but reflect infrared. By comparing the visible and infrared, you can see how well the plants are converting sun to energy.

Aside from its aesthetic and novelty value, cheaper infrared could be useful for all sorts of monitoring. For example, it could allow activists to take stock of a region affected by oil spills, or other disasters (or just ongoing damage).

"Join us in exploring, understanding, and democratizing this unique form of photography," says Public Lab, in this video. Seems like a nice idea.

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