Virtual Goggles Track Real Carbon Emissions

Carbon offsets have been available for purchase for avatars of the user-created world Second Life for some time. And now, thanks to a cool educational heads-up display, you can literally see the carbon emission levels of all the virtual cars, planes, and appliances around you, too.

Carbon Goggles is a personal side project of Jim Pubrick, a programmer with Linden Lab, the company behind Second Life. He developed it last month while at a London mashup fest. His Goggles combine a virtual object tagging system and real-world carbon data gathered from AMEE, the open platform that measures global energy consumption.

But what’s the point of associating real-world emissions with virtual objects?

“The nice thing about doing it in Second Life,” Pubrick told me, “is that there are already lots of models of real-world objects that can be overlaid…so you can learn about real-world emissions, get a feel for the relative carbon cost of a kettle or car, without reading a spreadsheet.” Here’s a video of the process in action. Among the SL objects already tagged are virtual versions of Scion and Honda cars, and a Boeing 737.

It’s an intriguing project that could become a compelling educational tool– assuming, of course, Pubrick can get enough volunteers willing to learn how to tag the millions of objects that remain.