Using cremation ashes to help grow a tree is an elegant, sensitive and natural way to memorialize someone after their death. This is what the Bios Urn, from a Barcelona-based company of the same name, is designed to do. The new Bios Incube provides more freedom and control in doing so.

The Bios Urn was first launched in 1997 and was relaunched in 2013. It is a biodegradable urn, into the lower section of which ashes are placed and into the upper section of which a seed of any tree-type is placed, along with some growth medium and soil. The ashes ultimately become part of the growth medium for the tree as it grows into an environmentally-friendly memorial of a loved one or, indeed, a pet.

The Bios Incube acts as an incubator for the Bios Urn, aimed at giving people more control over where the urn is planted and optimizing the growing conditions for the chosen tree. It takes the form of a 30 x 13-in (76 x 33-cm) polypropylene pot with a tasteful and minimal design. Inside the walls of the pot is a 3-gal (11-l) water reservoir with a built-in irrigation system, and there's a sensor for monitoring the growing conditions.

To begin with, the Bios Urn is planted inside of the Bios Incube, which can be kept inside or outside depending on the user's preference and the growing requirements of the seed. The sensor is then placed on the surface of the soil to track moisture, ground temperature, levels of light exposure, electrical conductivity and humidity.

Using an algorithm to make sense of the data and "understand" the needs of the tree, the system will water the tree automatically as per the requirements of its specific type. The reservoir can store enough water for an average of 20 days before needing to be topped up, and the system will also keep tabs on the quality of the water.

The sensor connects to a user's home WiFi network and relays the data collected to an accompanying mobile app for Android or iOS, meaning progress can be monitored from anywhere with an internet connection. In the event of a problem, such as the water quality not being good enough, the temperature not being right for the tree or the tree needing more sunlight, notifications will be sent to the user via the app.

The Bios Incube is provided with a Bios Urn and access to the mobile app. It's also possible to have a tree incubated at one of the company's "Incube Centers" if that is preferred.

A Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign is under way for the Bios Incube. At the time of writing, individuals who pledge from €350 (about US$384) can receive one of the incubators, assuming all goes to plan with the campaign and roll-out. Shipping is expected from November.

The video below provides an overview of the Bios Incube.

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