Atoptix is developing a handheld smartphone-based plant health sensor that can provide real-time quantitative measurements of crop nutrient levels and water stresses, as well as early flagging of diseased plants not yet visually distinguishable. The plant health sensor is built off of a patented miniature, low-cost, and yet high-resolution spectroscopy platform. The spectrometer technology was originally developed by Atoptix co-founders at Penn State. The sensor is unique as it essentially uses the plant as the gauge stick for determining agro-chemical application rates, in contrast to a nearby soil measurement or a subjective visual inspection approach.
The handheld plant health sensor is designed for use in the precision agriculture market, capturing optical measurements from the leaf of a plant that can be used to diagnose the plant’s overall health and provide recommendations for optimizing care. In discerning whether a plant suffers from a nutrient deficiency, a water stress, or a disease pressure, the sensor provides a means for farms to better manage and substantially save agro-chemical and irrigation resources. Additionally, the ability to time stamp and geo-stamp spectral data through integration with smartphones enables the development of an extraordinary spectral database, at a scale never before possible. Such a capability brings the power of “BIG” data analysis around a myriad of applications in the agricultural and environmental markets.
Atoptix’s current focus is to bring a product to market for early disease diagnosis in high-value crops, particularly for diseases without a cure, such as the deadly citrus greening disease (Huanglongbing). Atoptix has developed functional prototypes of the plant health sensor and is currently performing field testing with the devices to demonstrate the early diagnostic capability.
The core spectrometer technology was patented by Penn State (US Patent 8,861,086 and foreign patents pending). Atoptix has an exclusive license agreement with Penn State for the technology.