With the advent of the Kindle 2 one begins to wonder if we are really ready to go electronic with reading. The reason I wonder is because I’ve been looking at Chris Jordan’s work lately where he tries to document the size of the e-waste that is in the world now. One picture stands out for me430,000 cells phones a day retired in the US alone.

Is this what ebooks will lead to? I don’t know the answer to that but I can say I am inspired by the effort that innovators are putting into resolving the problem of sustainability.

This quote from the latest briefing from puts a hopeful spin on things:

Recession or not, consumers will continue to demand responsible behavior from brands. Just one statistic: “Four out of five people say they are still buying green products and services todaywhich sometimes cost moreeven in the midst of a US recession.”(reuters)

The quest for eco-bounty continues to be one of the inspiring stories coming out of our current world financial crises. The call for eco-friendly products and life-styles continues to be shouted from the heights of ancient trees in ancient forests.

Another event has me cheering for the environmentthe second annual Greener Gadgets Conference in New York. The design competition saw some fascinating projects presentedbut of course only a few can win. Here are three of the winning ideas:

eco-neighbuzz Korhan Buyukdemirci (Finland)

Eco-neighbuzz is an apartment buzzer & intercom system with additional features. Today’s existing intercom systems work only between outside door and flat. However, we can improve this system to support the existing community inside the building. Even though today we are living in tall concrete blocks built in big metropolises, we are not communicating with our neighbours as we did years ago. Sometimes we even don’t know who is living in the building and what they are doing.

When thinking about green design, we need to design good services which help us to consume less and share more. This means car-sharing, free-cycling (giving unused items for free), recycling, etc. We should first start doing this with our closest communityour neighbours. Even when we have good relationships with our neighbours, we are still missing a good service platform to improve upon it. Eco-neighbuzz is a great platform to build a greener community with our neighbours. Essentially, it is a voice message to neighbours. Interaction with the device happens through a touch screen and handset, using speech-to-text functionality.

Power Hog

Power-Hog Mathieu Zastawny, Mansour Ourasanah, Tom Dooley, Peter Byar, Elysa Soffer, Mathieu Turpault (United States)

Power-Hog is a power consumption metering piggy bank designed to sensitize kids to energy cost associated with running electronics devices. Plug the tail into the outlet and the device into the snout; feed a coin to meter 30 minutes of use.

It’s designed to capture the interest of parents and kids alike and serve the wider environmental cause. Power-Hog visually and symbolically associates power conservation with savings by using the iconic piggy bank as a visual reference. Kids can use their allowance to turn on the TV or video game by feeding the Power-Hog with loose change. The Power-Hog meters consumption and blinks red when time is running out. It also helps parents meter the amount of time spent watching the tube.

The Power-Hog is made out of Xenoy iQ1103-U grade resin from Sabic. Their upcycling process using recycled PET allows good performance at a cost similar to less friendly materials. It is 100% recyclable and its packaging has been developed following the sustainable coalition packaging guidelines.


Tweet-a-Watt, a twittering power meter Limor Fried, Adafruit Industries & Phillip Torrone, MAKE magazine

Using “off-the-shelf hardware”, we have modified a Kill-a-Watt(TM) power meter to “tweet” (publish wirelessly) the daily KWH consumed to the user’s Twitter account (Cumulative Killowatt-hours). We are releasing this project as an “Open source hardware” projectin other words, anyone can make these, modify them and make a commercial product from the ideas and methods.

Here’s how it works: The modified Kill-a-Watt uses a “super-cap” to slowly recharge itself. Once there is enough power it turns on the Xbee wireless module which transmits the data to a nearby computer (or internet connected microcontroller, like an Arduino). Once the power usage for the day is recorded it uses a predefined Twitter account (it can be your own) to publish your daily KWH consumption for the day. Multiple units can be used for an entire household.

We’re publishing the source, schematics and the idea for others to run with. Energy change and consumption can happen many ways; we feel there is a social imperative and joy in publishing one’s own daily KWH. By sharing these numbers on a service like Twitter users can compete for the lowest numbers and also see how they’re doing compared to their friends and followers.

*Note: We are in testing now, we’ll run it at Green Gadgets if requested (

To see the voting on other designs go here: greener gadgets