Your Old Android Phone Can Save the Rainforest

indonesia rainforest deforestation

Deforestation in Indonesia, Creative Commons: Rainforest Action Network, 2009 (Source)

“Save the rainforest” is a phrase that has been so widely used we don’t even consider the importance of its meaning anymore. Afterall, what can you really do to help save the rainforests of the world besides donate money you don’t have or sell everything you own, buy a plane ticket, and tape yourself to an ancient Indonesian tree full of ants? Finally, there is a simple solution for those of us who want to conserve the world’s forests without all the dirty work.

How many times have you upgraded your cell phone? Now that you have thought about it, was that phone actually broken or just too slow for you? Talk about first world problems.

E-waste is a real issue, only furthered by our insatiable thirst for electronics. In a similar vain is the problem of deforestation, which can only be described as our systematic destruction of the natural world we live in for money, farming, or the production of goods. However, a San Fransisco start-up named the Rainforest Connection has a elegant solution for both.

borneo rainforest deforestation

The deforestation of Borneo’s rainforest.

Taking an old Android cell phone equipped with a custom app, Rainforest Connection hopes to strategically place these ordinary devices within the Indonesian rainforest. Constantly enabled, they work by detecting abnormal noises, like the roar of a poacher’s chainsaw, alerting the nearby rangers so they may intervene. Equipped with a listening radius of .5km and powered by the sun, this becomes a much more effective method of enforcement by simply stopping deforestation of the rainforest before it starts – far more useful then aerial maps that only show the barren landscape where the chopping has already been done.

Founder Topher White also envisions the day in which others can participate in the activity, even designing self-contained boxes that can be simply hung up and turned on, coupled by a free Android app with real-time alerts:

We want to make people feel like they are taking part in the dramatic events on the front lines of environmental protection…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.

For now, the organization is working with specific partners to use new phones for the project. However, the day isn’t far when the average Joe can donate his old phone to the cause. It’ll make the upgrade to the HTC Moto Mega Droid II.7 much more justified.

rainforest connection

Rainforest Connection has the potential to save the rainforest.



NewScientist via Engadget

Rainforest Connection


StickNFind: Never Lose Anything Again

I lose everything.  Keys, wallet, even a tent once.  How many times have people said “I wish there was some easy way I could locate all the things I lose!”  Many products have been released, but they’ve always been loud, bulky, or downright useless.  Yearn for a more organized future no more my forgetful friends.  The future is here, and it is tiny, optionally silent, and works on bluetooth technology.

The answer to no more lost possessions is StickNFind, an inexpensive solution for tagging and locating electronics, keys, pets, and anything else you frequently lose track of (tents, in my case). A single small, adhesive, bluetooth enabled disk costs $25 and can be attached to any flat surface or key chain.  The device runs on a small, replaceable, CR2016 watch battery that is guaranteed to last at least a year.

The device also contains a free phone app that you can use to find your lost treasures through a radar-like interface.  As of now, the 100-foot range radar only displays distance, but an update, which is planned to come out before StickNFind is released, will add direction, allowing you to play a fun game of hot and cold while you search for your lost kitten.

The app includes other useful features as well, including alerts that tell you when the StickNFind is out of range.  You can also set the device to beep if you leave it behind, meaning that you’ll never forget your precious smart phone at home again.

Developers will be able to create their own apps for the StickNFind as well, allowing them to modify the technology to fit their needs.  StickNFind is currently available for pre-order and will be available for retail purchase in March.

As long as I can program the StickNFind’s alert to sound like a distressed R2D2, I’m in.