Smart lawn sprinklers cut down on water waste

All over Denver Christopher Klein and his fellow co-founders at Rachio noticed something disturbing: sprinklers going off in the rain. Putting sprinklers on a timer is always going to produce wasted water, but they didn’t feel it had to be that way.

Mobilize_badge_product-showcaseThey hashed out their idea at Denver Startup Weekend in 2012. They decided to build a smart system that can adapt to different weather conditions and lawn-owner needs, with the controls accessible via a smartphone.

“There are times where we want to be a part of our yard and we want to control it, and there are months where we just don’t have time,” Klein said. The Rachio system is meant to adapt to both.

Rachio sprinkler system software

As of now, Rachio has completed its hardware and most of its software, and it’s ready to show off its smart sprinkler system at the Product Showcase at GigaOM’s Mobilize conference next week. The company is finalizing where it will manufacture its sprinkler controller units, which will be compatible with existing and new home sprinkler systems. Klein said they plan to complete manufacturing within the company’s home state of Colorado. The first Rachio systems will ship in spring 2014 for $199.

He added the device and price point were made possible by recent developments in connective technology, which made it easier for Rachio’s hardware-oriented employees to get into the cloud.

“One of our guiding principles is smart devices should reduce waste and add to the sustainability of our future. We also think that the biggest value you get from them is allowing them to replace whatever knowledge you need for complex systems,” Klein said. “We didn’t form around a solution; we formed around a problem that [we] really wanted to solve. That keeps the passion there.”