Thursday, June 06, 2013
Smartphones Listening for Chainsaws Could Save Rainforests
Rapid obsolescence sends millions of smartphones to landfills every year, so it is hard to believe discarded phones could help preserve the environment. But Rainforest Connection, a San Francisco-based non-profit, is launching a pilot project in Indonesia that will do just that: It plans to use modified Android smartphones to record and identify the sound-signatures of chainsaws, alerting forest rangers of illegal logging, according to an article in the June issue of New Scientist.
Initially, the project will use 15 new phones donated for the trial to monitor a 62,000-acre reserve, but the non-profit plans to use recycled handsets donated by supporters who upgrade to new models. The phones will run on specially designed solar panels so the microphones can stay on at all times. When the phone registers the sound of a chainsaw, it will immediately send an alert to authorities.
Topher White, founder of Rainforest Connection, hopes local communities will get involved, hanging phone rigs and responding to alerts. "We'll ultimately rely upon locals to intervene when an 'event' is detected. Making it simple, effective and accessible for them is our first priority," White told New Scientist.