The Infagram Camera Reveals the ‘Secret Life of Plants’ with Infrared

Now here’s one nifty camera geared specifically towards people with green thumbs. 

Today’s find is for those with green thumbs: Infagram, which is “a simple, affordable near-infrared camera produced by the Public Laboratory community in a series of collaborative experiments over the last few years.”

Infrared photography has been around for a long time. While it’s more popular nowadays for delivering surreal, otherworldly results, it’s also particularly useful with agricultural and ecological assessments usually done by larger entities such as vineyards, large farms, and even the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Now, though, farmers, gardeners, students, environmental activists, open source DIY scientists, and photography enthusiasts would be able to assess plant health on their own easily and for considerably less with the Infagram, seen above.

Infagram is the conclusion of a project that started five years ago. It was developed by Public Laboratory originally to monitor the wetlands damages in the wake of the BP oil spill, “…but its simplicity of use and easy-to-modify open-source hardware & software makes it a useful tool for home gardeners, hikers, makers, farmers, amateur scientists, teachers, artists, and anyone curious about the secret lives of plants.”

The camera was so popular that it gathered an astounding US $71,373 worth of pledges – more than twice its $30,000 goal.

Per Infagram’s Kickstarter page, this is how infrared works pertaining to plant health:

Photosynthesizing plants absorb most visible light (less green than red and blue, which is why they’re green to our eyes!) but reflect near-infrared. When you take a picture with the Infragram, you get two separate images – infrared and regular light — and a false-color composite that shows you where there are big differences. Bright spots in the composite means lots of photosynthesis!

We’re able to get both channels in one by filtering out the red light, and reading infrared in its place using a piece of carefully chosen “infrablue” filter. The images are later processed online — combining the blue and infrared channels into an image map of photosynthesis.

After shooting, the user simply needs to go to www.infragram.org so they could start analyzing their photos.

Aside from taking pictures to check on and assess plant health, Infagram is also particularly useful for teaching students about plants, generating verifiable open environmental data, and check the progress of environmental restoration projects, among other things. Due to its smashing Kickstarter success, the Public Laboratory is now able to offer various products for infrared photography including the Infagram Plant Cam and IR Lens (from $25) and the Infagram DIY Filter Pack (from $5). You may see the rest of the products here.

For more detailed information on the Infagram, we encourage you to visit its Kickstarter page as well as the Public Laboratory’s official website.

All images taken from Infagram’s Kickstarter page.