Intel plans for green tracking device

Worried about the impact your technology use is having on the environment? A development project underway at Intel might help salve your conscience whilst also giving you another gadget to add to your arsenal.

Worried about the impact your technology use is having on the environment? A development project underway at Intel might help salve your conscience whilst also giving you another gadget to add to your arsenal.

Intel research VP Andrew Chien outlined an internal project to develop such a device, known as UbiGreen, at a press briefing ahead of the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco. As the world's largest manufacturer of processors, Intel is under heavy pressure to reduce the environmental effects of new technology.

"[UbiGreen] is really looking at how you actually track your information and give people feedback on the environmental impact of their activities," Chien said. "For example, this could be as simple as did I take the bus to work today or did I drive my car, or it could be details about purchasing choices."

UbiGreen aims to use RFID tracking and other sensors to measure individual activity relating to greenhouse gas emission, energy usage and other measures of environmental impact. Details of those measures could then be presented on a mobile device.

Intel hasn't outlined a timeframe for the commercial release of any such device, though its typical approach has been to develop prototypes for technologies which are then commercialised by others.

Chien also demonstrated a similar unit, called UbiFit, which measures physical activity by an individual and provides a continuously updated display of current progress as the wallpaper on a mobile phone or other portable device.

UbiFit uses a horticultural metaphor. A full range of blooms suggests a variety of healthy physical activity, the appearance of butterflies shows that specific goals have been met, while a dull garden with just a few blades of grass is a relatively nice way of suggesting that you need to get off the couch occasionally.

Angus Kidman travelled to San Francisco as a guest of Intel.

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