This Start-Up is Recycling Old Smartphones to Save Trees
A lot of us have our old smartphones lying around as junk. Selling them wouldn’t add much to our bank accounts and fixing them would cost too much. What if you could donate it for a good cause? Well, a San Francisco based start-up called Rainforest Connection may have found the perfect solution. The company is planning on recycling old smartphones into devices that detect deforestation and alert authorities to illegal logging activity or poaching.
The smartphone is connected to a solar panel that will power the smartphone which is programmed to pick up destructive sounds, such as chainsaws or alarmed animals. Hidden in the trees, this device will alert local authorities via text message, who can then respond immediately. Also, anyone who downloads the Rainforest Connection app can listen live to the sounds of the Sumatra rainforest.
The start-up has conducted an experiment which built a security network of devices in the Air Tarusan reserve in western Sumatra to prevent illegal logging.
It is a simple idea, that will make a huge difference. Ambient sounds in the rainforest will be continuously recorded and screened using the phones’ microphones and onboard software. Any noises that match the sound-signature of a chainsaw will trigger an alert, providing rangers with information to intervene and stop the deforestation, according to Rainforest Connection’s website.
Alerts can be sent using cell networks that already exist wherever the devices are installed. For instance, in Sumatra Rainforest, home of a small batch of phones the company is installed and unlimited cell phone data cost was just $2.89 per month.
Each phone covers a circular area of about a third of a square mile, which means 15 phones are insufficient for all of Air Tarusan’s 96 square miles of old-growth forest, but it’s a start.
Current anti-deforestation efforts are aided mainly by satellites, which do not provide live updates. This means responders are often too late to stop environmental crimes before they happen. But Rainforest Connection’s device can detect exact locations and times, instantly providing information on which areas of the forest are in danger.
Right now, Rainforest Connection has able to collect 21% of it’s pledged goal which is $100,000. The company’s effort to raise funds is backed by singer Neil Young, who appears in a video on Rainforest Connection’s Kickstarter page.