10 Comments

Summary:

If you’ve ever tried to use one of those carbon footprint calculator web sites, then you’ll likely understand why mobile entrepreneur Andreas Zachariah would try to build a better way. Most online carbon calculators aren’t too user-friendly and rely on the user to input a significant […]

If you’ve ever tried to use one of those carbon footprint calculator web sites, then you’ll likely understand why mobile entrepreneur Andreas Zachariah would try to build a better way. Most online carbon calculators aren’t too user-friendly and rely on the user to input a significant amount of data — details on their transportation and home energy use, primarily — much of which can be difficult to know and easy to fudge.

To fill that data gap, Zachariah has been working on a java-based mobile application called Carbon Hero, which uses GPS location info to automatically monitor your transportation. The app can tell if you drive, fly, take the train or walk, and fills in your travel info and how much carbon your choice emitted. The application will then compare your carbon profile against different averages and calculate your improvements (or guilty choices!).
carbonheroblackberry.jpg

Carbon Hero is currently still in the testing phase, but Zachariah hopes to launch the service by “the end of this year or early next year.” He’s hoping to get in front of BlackBerry and potentially Nokia NSeries users, whom he notes are the early adopters and thought leaders. He’s also started talks with seed investors to commercialize the product.

There are a number of potential commercial applications: A handset maker could embed the app, a mobile operator could give it good placement on their deck, a company could license it for in-house use, or consumers could download it straight off the mobile web. Zachariah says corporations could be a major source of revenue for his firm, also called Carbon Hero, as companies increasingly try to find ways to make their carbon footprint data more transparent to meet new regulations. They could save money by cutting down on extra travel, too. He predicts a company would pay a couple dollars a month per user for the mobile app.

For the launch, Zachariah is targeting the UK market, followed by Europe and then the U.S. While location-based mobile applications have been a long time coming, they have found success with specific applications like basic driving directions here in the U.S. We’re not sure how many consumers would want to pay to use Carbon Hero to calculate their carbon emissions — it’s probably a pretty small market. But eco-conscious consumers tend to be willing to pay a premium. A mobile carrier and handset maker could also get some seriously good PR out of embedding the app on cell phones.

Zachariah says the next step is testing, testing, testing. His team — coder and partner Nick Burch, and GUI coder Will Bamford — is already putting the app through the wringer with an unnamed corporation. Little things, like getting the program to know when you’re riding a bike (which appears similar to a car ride to the service), without manually inputting that data, is proving a bit challenging.

While Carbon Hero is using location-based GPS data, other sources of monitoring, like Near Field Communication and radio frequency ID chips could be used to add other layers to the mobile app. Link it to smart home metering services or products you buy at a store, and your carbon profile could be a lot more sophisticated than just your travel choices.

I would love to see an application like this gain traction. Alas a major hurdle, at least for consumers, is being constantly reminded to make changes that could sacrifice the easy choices of your everyday life. The very personal nature and constant monitoring of the service could scare an average customer away. According to some reports, the more information you actually know about climate change, the more apathetic you become — the sheer magnitude of the problem is just too depressing, apparently. A similar thing could take place if a user’s mobile phone is making them feel guilty or worse, overwhelmed. Though as Zachariah noted, he’s going after the early adopters first. Maybe they can set a good example.

You’re subscribed! If you like, you can update your settings

  1. How does the device discern between motorized and non-motorized transport? In large cities like London bicycling has repeatedly been shown to be faster than all other methods of surface transport and frequently faster than subways (subways use is easy to isolate–lose the GPS signal at one location only to pop up at another several minutes later).

  2. Carbon Hero to the Rescue – GigaOM Friday, April 4, 2008

    [...] called Carbon Hero, which uses GPS location info to automatically monitor your transportation. Earth2Tech has the full story. Rating: None Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Share/Send Related Print [...]

  3. Now that is something really cool.

    http://tekno-world.blogspot.com

  4. The My Carbon Stash Blog » Green Notes – 05 Apr 08 Saturday, April 5, 2008

    [...] the individual’s privacy, to reveal to its user their own unique Travel Carbon Footprint. Mobile entrepreneur Andreas Zachariah has been working on a java-based mobile application called Carbon Hero, which uses GPS location info to automatically monitor your [...]

  5. Personal Carbon Trading…Sometime? « Earth2Tech Friday, May 9, 2008

    [...] for your home that can give you a carbon-use read out of your house’s energy consumption. Carbon Hero is another, in the form of a mobile phone application that uses GPS to track your travel and [...]

  6. The Zone Read » Blog Archive » links for 2008-04-07 Friday, May 16, 2008

    [...] Carbon Hero to the Rescue « Earth2Tech If you’ve ever tried to use one of those carbon footprint calculator web sites, then you’ll likely understand why mobile entrepreneur Andreas Zachariah would try to build a better way. (tags: green mobile) [...]

  7. Android to Launch Carbon Footprint Calculator, Ecorio « Earth2Tech Tuesday, September 23, 2008

    [...] all sounds very similar to Carbon Hero, an application being developed for the Blackberry that tracks travel carbon costs via GPS. But [...]

  8. Android to Launch Carbon Footprint Calculator, Ecorio | Eco Friendly Mag Tuesday, September 23, 2008

    [...] all sounds very similar to Carbon Hero, an application being developed for the Blackberry that tracks travel carbon costs via GPS. But [...]

  9. Carbon Hero Looking for First Funds For GPS Carbon Calculator « Earth2Tech Monday, September 29, 2008

    [...] When we profiled mobile entrepreneur Andreas Zachariah and his GPS-based carbon footprint application in April, his company, Carbon Hero, was still in the early phases of testing the application. Zachariah tells [...]

  10. remote access software Tuesday, September 22, 2009

    Not sure what the upside to producing carbon emissions is, but its impressive to see the increase in scientific aptitude of these technologies.

Comments have been disabled for this post