Parrot Flower Power, $60,


Some gardeners swear by talking to their plants to help them grow; now, those plants can talk back.

The French electronics company Parrot, which makes car navigation systems and the superb Parrot Zik headphones, has branched out with a sensor for plant lovers born without a green thumb.

The device, called Parrot Flower Power, was created to analyze the growing conditions of plants and send you the results. Once inserted in the plant’s soil, either in a pot or open ground, the sensor monitors ambient temperature, fertilizer, light intensity and soil moisture.

When synced to a smartphone via Bluetooth, the device relays the information to an app, which has a broad database of 6,000 plants and trees and the precise needs for each one. The app will also record and chart up to a year’s worth of data. And the sensor will send an alert if action is needed.

Parrot Flower Power, which works only with iOS devices, is available at Brookstone and Verizon stores for $60 and comes with a AAA battery, which provides power for about six months. The sensor measures the soil about 4 inches around it.


bridging the gap between phones

Typo Keyboard, $99,


Despite the popularity of touch-screen smartphones, some BlackBerry users have clung to their phones with tactile keyboards. For those reluctant to let go of their BlackBerry, Typo Keyboard is here to help with the transition to a touch screen.

Typo is actually a cellphone case, currently available for the iPhone 5 and 5s, with a wireless keyboard on the bottom. The entrepreneurs behind the concept are hoping to make life easier for those who desire the functions and apps on the iPhone but also like hammering out an e-mail on a keyboard.

The case, which can be ordered from the company’s website for $99 for shipping in February, is surprisingly slim yet sturdy, adding little bulk to the iPhone. Inside is a tiny lithium-ion battery, only 1 millimeter thick. The keyboard covers the bottom of the phone, but the ports are still accessible. And setup, via Bluetooth, was easy.

The keys are laid out in typical QWERTY fashion, with alternate keys for capitalization, numbers and symbols.