When it comes to getting rid of an old smartphone, you have plenty of options. You can hand it down to your kids, trade it in for cash or just use it as a paperweight. But if you really want to make an impact with your out-of-date technology, a non-profit group called Rainforest Connection is mounting used Android smartphones in the Indonesian rainforest to help stop the scourge of illegal logging.
Each smartphone is loaded with a solar-powered charger and open source software capable of monitoring the sounds of the jungle. Should any of the phones’ mics detect the unique and very-out-of-place sound of a chainsaw from as far as a third of a mile away, the phone will send a real-time alert to forestry officials. That way, illegal loggers can be caught in the act and put out of business for good.
Yes, before you ask: Even the Indonesian jungle has cell reception, spotty though it may be. Service can be had there for as little as $2.89 per month per phone, meaning that Rainforest Connection could monitor massive swaths of land for a fraction of what you pay to have your iPhone drop calls in the middle of New York City.
Earlier this week, Rainforest Connection founder Topher White launched a beta test of the system in the jungle of Western Sumatra. Should the trial prove successful, Rainforest Connection plans to expand the program in coming months. But to do this, the non-profit will need a little bit of help – yours. If you’re interested in helping save the rainforest with your unused Android phone (dated 2010 or later), the Rainforest Connection is in need of more devices. Mail your unwanted, deactivated and deleted smartphone to:
799 Clayton Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
Be sure to include your email and mailing address with your phone so the non-profit can keep you up to date on how your specific phone will be used. For now, the group is only accepting Android phones running version 2.2 (Froyo) or better. If you’re not sure if your phone is usable by the group, you can email them at email@example.com to be sure.