Shedding Some Light

 

Light, above all, is vital for plant growth. Plants turn sunlight into energy through the process of photosynthesis. Whether you're growing basil or bamboo, orchids or oregano, it is crucial that plants receive enough light to survive and flourish.

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Plants mostly absorb light from the high and low ends of the visible electromagnetic spectrum and reflect green light, hence their color. Light also affects plants differently as they grow, and requirements for light often change between germination and flowering. These requirements then vary greatly from one plant to the next.

While natural light from the sun is sometimes unlimited and free, it is oftentimes unreliable and unavailable. For example, while parsley grows beautifully during July and August in upstate New York, as soon as the fall weather comes around, the plant cannot continue to thrive. When it comes to growing indoors, shelf space near a window is necessary for plants to receive the sunlight they so desperately need. Even a cloudy week could make a healthy plant struggle.

Artificial light has been used for plant growth for over 150 years to overcome this difficulty, and research has increased tremendously since the inception of this idea. You may have heard them referred to as "grow lights" or "plant lights," which mimic the sun's natural light for the plant to undergo more vigorous photosynthesis. Today, it is possible to program grow lights in order to optimize plant growth. Optimization of the lighting involves both understanding and control of the effective wavelengths and intensity per unit area.

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Íko One, our company’s first product, will contain a highly controlled environment for culinary herbs to grow. In this system, there are various constraints regarding light that need to be considered. For instance, we are working to ensure that the lights are not too bright or invasive in your home, while still providing the correct amount of light for the plants. During early stages of plant growth, blue spectrum light promotes growth while keeping the plants compact and sturdy. Red spectrum light works to sustain those plants and helps leaves grow larger in later stages. As you may have noticed, most growers accomplish this with lights that are blue and red in color. However, we want our product to be both functional and aesthetically pleasing, meaning it cannot have those bright and intrusive colors. Instead, we have been subtly mixing different temperatures of white light to bring the same accurate, useful energy to the plants, while still appearing comfortable for the home.

Our system utilizes highly efficient LEDs, meaning they provide a lot of light with little energy. In addition, there is low heat emission from the lights themselves, which is imperative in a system with a controlled temperature and environment.

Sivan Sud, our Chief Hardware Officer, stated, "Everything we do is about creating harmony between form and function. It involves finding the right balance between engineering a precise system that grows high quality herbs, and designing a product that can fit into your home comfortably." Since user experience is of utmost importance, we will be adding a feature to our product that will allow the user to dim the lights at their convenience. This can be done via the app, or by physically interacting with the system.

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It is one of our major goals and market differentiators to be able to grow herbs specifically for flavor, using methods of controlled environment agriculture (CEA) to enhance their taste and intensity. Ben Sword, our Chief Botanical Officer, stated, "Our specific combination of lighting and climate control will allow us to grow the herbs not just quickly, but also make them more flavorful by mimicking the plant’s natural environment."

 
Lisa Condoluci