Meet TreeWifi, a state-of-the-art birdhouse located on a bustling street in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The latest product of the eponymous Dutch company, TreeWifi not only measures air pollution, but also provides free Wi-Fi to people in the vicinity of the birdhouse when air is clear enough. Founder Joris Lam designed TreeWifi as a straight-forward way for people to see that air pollution is ubiquitous, but often hardly visible in normal situations.
Unlike traditional pollution censors that display numbers on a small screen, TreeWifi uses LEDs to visualize the level of air pollution--the roof will glow bright green when air quality is good enough to open up free Wi-Fi. Once connected to the Wi-Fi, people can access precise air-pollution information as specific as air quality of the street where the birdhouse is installed.
TreeWifi is composed of an electro-chemical sensor that measures nitrogen dioxide pollution. Placed inside are measuring boxes and Wi-Fi routers, which activate free Wi-Fi when air quality in that location improves. The inexpensive cost--around $200--inevitably puts some limits on the extent of TreeWifi’s technology. But for ordinary folks who want to find out the air quality of where they live, the birdhouse is an affordable and reliable option to turn to.
With all the electro-chemical components, TreeWifi can emulate a birdhouse but can't actually function as one. Designers at the company are exploring new ways to make that possible, however. For example, by making the most of heat put off from the electronics, there's a chance that TreeWifi could help keep birds warm during the winter. In the meantime, designers are also planning to supply technology so TreeWifi can be customized according to customers' needs.
Head over to Fast Company's Co.Exist for more details about TreeWifi.