Google and T-Mobile unveiled the G1 today, the first phone powered by Android, Google’s own mobile operating system. The G1 is launching on Oct. 22, along with its market for third party applications, the Android Market Place (similar to Apple’s App Store.) And lucky for us, one of the featured applications is Ecorio, a carbon footprint calculator.
The application, which tracks your travels and calculates your travel carbon footprint, was built by the five-man, Toronto-based Ecorio team with $300,000 in prize and development money from Google. But beyond simply recording data, it encourages you to take action in three ways — reduce, inspire and offset (“RIO”) — offering up alternatives to driving, ways to share energy-saving tips with other users and a quick and easy way to purchase carbon offsets.
By pinging your GPS, the application tracks your travel and can build a velocity profile (similarly to how RunKeeper tracks your running speeds), figuring out how efficiently you’re driving. You can keep multiple vehicle profiles so you can tell it if you’re crushing the earth in your Escalade or sipping fuel in your Prius. The team is also working on getting it to recognize air travel, which they hope to have ready by launch.
This all sounds very similar to Carbon Hero, an application being developed for the Blackberry that tracks travel carbon costs via GPS. But Ecorio also provides alternatives to driving, using Google Transit to recommend public transportation and even integrates with Zimride, the large Facebook carpooling program, to locate carpools or allow a user to offer up a new carpool.
But no matter what you do, you likely won’t be able to reduce your footprint to zero — and that’s where offsets come in. Ecorio allows you to purchase carbon offsets from Carbonfund.org using Google Checkout. Users can choose a project either in renewable energy, energy efficiency or reforestation.
Like so many mobile services, Ecorio offers a vague social element. The “Inspire” function allows users to comment on projects, offer fuel-saving tips and share public-transit stories. It’s not exactly clear how users will take to the “Inspire” element, but the Ecorio team hopes it will build a strong community around the application and leverage peer pressure to encourage users to reduce their footprint even more. Ecorio is already available in the Android Market Place for free, so as soon as you can get your hands on a handset you can download it and start tracking your footprint.
Ecorio’s developers intend to make the app available across as many devices and platforms as possible, including iPhone, Blackberry and Facebook, but are currently focused on getting the Android build out the door. Have your own great idea for a green mobile app? Nokia has recently launched its own competition with $150,000 up for grabs.