Washington, February 26 : A postgraduate student at the Royal College of Art in London has created a key ring sensor called 'Carbon Hero', which uses satellite navigation technology to track journeys, and alert travellers on their cell phones as to how much they are contributing to global warming.
"With Carbon Hero calculating your carbon footprint is easy," said Andreas Zachariah, the inventor of 'Carbon Hero'.
"This easy-to-use mobile system uses satellite navigation data to calculate the environmental impact of travel. With its specialist database and algorithm, it can determine the mode of transport and its environmental impact with almost no user input," he added.
Zachariah came up with the idea of a small and practical device to track personal CO2 emissions during travel in 2006, and in April 2007, he was joined by Oxford postgraduate student Nick Burch in his effort to bring Carbon Hero to life.
"We have now tested our application using GPS and it has proved to be very efficient. Once Galileo, the European global navigation satellite system, becomes fully operational its increased accuracy will aid Carbon Hero to measure journeys and then determine their carbon footprint," said Zachariah.
The researcher further said that with Carbon Hero, one would only have to look at one's mobile phone to check the effect of a journey on the environment.
"The feedback loop is almost immediate," said Zachariah.
He said Carbon Hero might also be helpful in revealing the environmental impact of different types of transport-namely train, plane, bike etc.
Zachariah added that it would allow users to easily compare one kind of travel with another, and calculate the environmental benefits daily, weekly and monthly.
"If you go on a diet you want to see if all that effort has made a difference so you weigh yourself. The beauty of our system is that it's easy; you have a 'weighing scale' on you all the time giving you your carbon footprint. When you make the effort to walk instead of taking the car you can immediately see the result, so it feels more worthwhile doing it and you are more likely to stick with it," he said. Zachariah and Burch have filed a patent for their invention, and they plan to have Carbon Hero ready for beta-testing in a company by the beginning of the next financial year in April. It will then be used to track a team, a department or the whole company throughout the financial year.
"We are now in a closed beta-testing phase verifying that all works well, fixing problems and improving the application. It is a live and kicking application working on mobile cellular phones; it has already been tested on the Nokia platform now we are moving to Blackberry," said Burch.