Save the Planet (With Sony Gear)?

[Editor’s Note: Is this perhaps a case of greenwashing? Some are calling it out as such. To get some background on this, read The Good Human, followed by actual interactions around this between a blogger and a PR rep. for this project.]

As public relations gambits go, this is a pretty good one: Sony’s European division has hooked up with WWF—the conservation organization no longer known as World Wildlife Fund—in what they call Open Planet Ideas, an effort to “crowdsource eco techonology applications.”

In addition to getting the company some warm and fuzzy PR, Sony hopes the ongoing collaboration will yield several viable environment-enhancing projects—all using existing Sony technology, of course—before the winnowing process ends in January 2011. The parties behind the best concept, as chosen by participants and a Sony/WWF panel, will work with Sony designers and engineers to bring the idea to fruition.

image via Sony

Sony offered a for-example in its press release touting Open Planet Ideas: last year, a bunch of California schoolchildren who had been rousted from their homes by a huge Sierra Nevada blaze hatched a plan to use solar-powered IP cameras and Wi-Fi to monitor the forest for fires. University of Nevada scientists provided expertise and Sony the equipment to help make the idea a reality.

Sony suggests that those looking for ideas visit the Open Planet Ideas site, where dozens of “inspirations” on topics ranging from water purity to rhino poaching have already been posted. Remember, the beauty of crowdsourcing is that grabbing someone else’s concept and running with it is not only allowed, it’s encouraged.

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Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.