We've seen some interesting ways that augmented reality can inform purchasing decisions by superimposing products into our living rooms and even into our mouths (hello million-dollar smile). A new app called Plant Life Balance takes a similar approach, drawing on scientific research to help users kit out their homes with just the right amount of air and soul-cleansing plants.

Science tells us that plants can give air quality a boost, further to just making a space feel that little bit nicer. But the team behind the new app sought to take this one step further, reviewing more than hundred scientific articles to develop what it calls plant life balance index. This is basically a rating system for how much different plants can improve the lives of urban dwellers, offering a reading of two key metrics, air quality and wellbeing.

Developing the index meant looking at things like how different plant's absorb volatile organic compounds and other particulate matter such as dust, pollen, soot and smoke, along with how plants can improve productivity and social behavior. It even takes into account the surface area of a plant's leaves, how big the plants themselves are and which combinations of small and large plants can have maximum impact, depending on the space.

So this index serves as the engine room for the app. Users snap a photo of the room with the smartphone and enter the number and size of plants in the space. The app then spits out a rating on how healthy the space is, and allows users to tweak things by dragging and dropping virtual plants into the room and adjusting their size.

Using a catalogue of more than 90 plants that can be super-imposed onto a room, the app then compiles a shopping list of those selected so users can head to their local nursery and start to green up their space. The app is free and available for both iOS and Android worldwide from today.

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