Tuesday, May 1, 2007

posted by Sarah Krasley @ 10:14 PM
Remember furbies? Remember how annoying they were? How small children would dote on them in the hopes that they would flourish? Well, here's a similar concept, but not at all annoying....well, they are kind of annoying because I want one and they are not in production yet, but, wow! The device pictured to the left will water and feed a small tree according to its owner's environmental footprint. Things like energy usage, home heating and cooling, and recycling efforts will effect whether or not the tree is given sustaining nutrients and water or damaging poison.

Awhile back I attended a lecture series where
Kalle Lasn, the Founder of the Adbusters Media Foundation spoke. During one of the most engaging PowerPoint presentations I've ever seen, he showed some pictures of his friend's house--she had installed her electric meter right next to the front door to remind her to turn off the lights and cut down on the phantom power that goes to appliances in their rest positions.

This Energy Tree works on the same principle--its goal, simply put, is to make its owner more efficient. Here's a report of the story that ran on Treehugger.com today:

THE ENERGY TREE. Every once in a while, we like to feature an interesting bit of conceptual design. Like the Energy Tree. Apparently in an effort to truly unite technology with the physical environment, designer Ben Arent has created a system that contains a real tree connected to a microprocessor. The device controls the watering and feeding of the tree depending on your energy usage, and also monitors your appliances, heating/cooling, and recycling habits. It uses this information to feed and water the tree, but only if you are efficient with your energy use. If you aren't, the Energy Tree will poison and malnourish the tree, eventually killing it.

The system will also be online, using something known as "the collector." The collector is there to encourage people to recycle; Once at the depot the collector will unit will be radioed indicating that you did your job. This system has the added benefit that someone can take your recycling to the facility, while you can still get the credit. You know, to keep your tree alive.

It's a visceral idea, and (natch) still on the drawing board. According to the article, "The EnergyTree will change the perception and view of how power is being used, implementing a complete system looking at device consumption, home consumption and long term sustainability." If you got this far, I think it just did that. ::more ::Ben Arent

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Cool, I'll get one of these for my "domed city in space" that John Travolta is proposing as a solution to global warming. I'll also be sure to wear my "dining sleeve" (design by Sheryl Crow) and only wipe with one square. The more rediculous things like this that come out, the less people are going to take the issue seriously.
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