Sony turns to people power for green ideas

Japanese electronics giant Sony has teamed up with the World Wildlife Fund to crowdsource greener ideas for technology.

The new initiative, called Open Planet Ideas, aims to encourage ordinary people to put forward original ideas and applications for the smart new use of existing technologies.

"We’re not looking for ideas for building environmentally-friendly new products. Instead, we’re looking for unusual, incremental or radical new applications for existing products and technologies for environmental good," says the organisation's mission statement.

The initiative was inspired by a group of Californian schoolchildren who came up with the idea of using security cameras, wi-fi technology and and solar panels to build an early warning system for forest fires.

The first phase of the process, which starts today and runs until the end of November, invites people to propose ideas for how existing technologies could be combined to meet environmental challenges.

Around 30 ideas will be short-listed and the eventual winner will work with Sony designers to build a prototype.

Cynics might see this as a cheap way for Sony to bypass the expensive R&D process for new products, but the company says that all of the intellectual property relating to the winning idea will be put into the public domain.

You can find out more about the project here.