Disruption without interruption. That is exactly what the team at Seattle-based technology startup iUNU (pronounced “you-knew”) is working to give the commercial horticulture industry with LUNA, an artificial intelligence (AI) solution that monitors and forecasts human plant health on a large scale.
It’s not about substituting growers; it is about augmenting their truth by allowing them to be in two places at the same time, work proactively rather than reactively to solve plant development problems in real time, and divert how they use their time by cutting the amount of hours committed to scouting out plants and walking through greenhouses with second storey extensions to check environmental problems. Instead, growers can assess crop conditions over java, create task lists, and assign tasks to staff members before they even walk into work in the morning.
Adam Greenberg, CEO of iUNU, said they want to be the grower’s best friend. The system can even solve inventory issues like finding crops which were transferred, and helping farmers sell plants grown on spec to prospective buyers.
iUNU has raised $6 million from 2nd Avenue Partners, Initialized Capital, Fuel Capital, Liquid 2 Ventures, and many others, to bring large scale, computer vision-based, industrial production process and inventory management to the industrial greenhouse market. Alexis Ohanian of Initialized Capital describes this solution to turn greenhouses into data driven manufacturing plants. To IT managed service providers and consultant companies, it’s both a seriously practical and critical business application of AI to a basic industry.
Following three years of testing and development in large scale commercial operations, LUNA combines computer vision and machine learning technology to continuously build detailed models of individual plants, unique among the countless, throughout the day. Using high resolution and 3D vision, in addition to real time bioinformatics, LUNA monitors even the most minute changes in the health of individual plants, giving growers the exact knowledge they need for proactive management.
When Liquid 2 Ventures (Joe Montana, Mike Miller, and Michael Ma) saw how distinguished LUNA was from the other options in the space, they knew they needed to put money into iUNU. LUNA provides a really comprehensive understanding of each plant’s health and development, centered on the plant’s actual performance, not only the environment around it. Closing the control loop has the potential to alter the equation of the economics of commercial-scale, indoor horticulture.
Greenhouse growers must deal with pests, diseases and other environmental risks to plants. The struggle is quantifiable: around 20 percent of fruits and vegetables go to waste before they’ve even left the farm – and that amount can be even higher for fragile ornamentals. At the exact same time, growers are under persistent pressure from retailers to provide consistently on quality and quantity. While technology such as sensors and private cloud computing services provide incremental relief to growers, LUNA provides a solution that permits greenhouses to operate as contemporary, demand-based, information-driven, production centers.
Adam Greenberg, CEO of iUNU, explained that all the solutions they have seen so far concentrate on enhancing the grower’s reaction time to problems. They reject the assumption that ‘reactive manner’ is the natural condition for growers. With the right technology, thoughtfully applied to provide them better computer driven visibility, greenhouse operations can be as precise, proactive, and predictable as contemporary manufacturing.
LUNA can understand, and remember, the minute her cameras and detectors are first installed into your greenhouses, providing growers with historic records of each detail of each plant from the machine, in addition to live data – whatever they need to make decisions to conduct their small business, all in one area.
LUNA has been tested for three years with an indoor cannabis growing center in Seattle, WA and at a large scale ornamentals greenhouse operations in Skagit Valley, WA. Its development was based on real-world situations that farmers face every day, while also taking into consideration the present infrastructure of every operation and limits to hiring extension builders or architects specialised in horticulture landscapes to prevent interrupting gear or developing practices.
Once installed in a grower manufacturer, the machine instantly begins recording data such as greenhouse humidity, humidity, lighting levels, and expansion speed, which allows growers to monitor plant improvement and health with time, supplies historic records of each detail of each plant from the machine, and make decisions proactively as the machine alerts them to problems that may impact growing advancement.
LUNA uses detectors, high-resolution cameras, and 3D vision to manage the growing atmosphere. With both extensive range perspectives and the ability to zoom in and see individual crops, LUNA detects minute changes in each plant’s growth in real time, and instantly communicates the activities needed to ensure healthy results.
With these skills, LUNA provides growers all the information they need for successful management based on exact knowledge, and ideally will help growers optimize product quality and yields, decrease operational costs and waste, and confidently forecast prepared dates, Greenberg says. Officially started on August 22, LUNA is accessible now, and currently has Orders rolling into 2017 and 2018.