How 'fitbit' apps are revolutionising carbon tracking
The Carbon Trust has joined a host of organisations developing apps that allow people, and businesses, to keep track of the carbon cost of day-to-day life.
A new concept design between London designer Benjamin Hubert and The Carbon Trust has seen the birth of Worldbeing - a wearable 'fitbit' device which aims to help people understand how much carbon they are using through live tracking.
Worldbeing users wear a wristband which calculates their carbon consumption based on the day’s activities. Users can also manually enter emission consumption - such as breakfast meals or transport commutes, and the daily progress is charted through 'Carbon Clouds'. As users approach their recommended daily target, the cloud expands and turns red.
Carbon reduction targets can be individually aligned to the user's activities and lifestyle, with an aim to encourage and implement new patterns of more sustainable behaviour. All of the figures are calculated using the Trust's own carbon calculator.
The Carbon Trust’s associate director Aleyn Smith-Gillespie said: “The Worldbeing concept is pioneering an innovative technological approach to make reducing your personal carbon footprint both engaging and social.
"This app has the potential to increase understanding and stimulate action by intuitively communicating and linking our daily activities and decisions to their impacts on the climate.”
The desire for these types of apps is certainly evident but the execution is still the major hurdle. According to Forbes, more than 70% of 16 to 24 year olds want to own and wear this type of technology. However, having to manually enter the information can be seen as a time-consuming deterrent. Similar carbon tracking innovations have sidestepped this problem by implementing an element of healthy competition into their apps.
Adding social aspects to apps to allow people to compare and compete with one another is an ideal way to keep motivational use of these devices running high.
Opower are one such company using the idea of competitiveness. The energy company has partnered with public utilities such as PG&E to provide customers with personal insight and information on how their energy consumption rates among neighbours in similar sized homes.
The bragging rights element of the platform allows users to post performances online and challenge friends. Since 2008, Opower users have reduced energy consumption by $250m.
The idea of green multimedia was first touted in 2010 when researchers from the University of Dublin ran trials to track home and driving emissions of test subjects. Results showed that over a six-week period, energy consumption fell by just under 4%. Prolonged use of any carbon tracking device could therefore play an important role in global carbon reductions.
The focus of these revolutionary devices has been largely shaped towards carbon footprints. But that isn’t to say that other innovative devices are out there that can help track different types of waste management.
Oasys is over a tenth of the way to its funding target on kickstarter. The device is mounted to a wall in your home and wirelessly tracks water consumption and lets you compare usage over time, set goals, show how you're doing compared to other households, and display local watershed levels and weather forecasts.