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Kickstarter Project from dMASS NVP Voltree: Using tree power to inspire young scientists

dMASS NVP and 2013 Buckminster Fuller Challenge semi-finalist Voltree Power has launched a Kickstarter project for its educational product CircuiTree.

Voltree was the first to harvest metabolic energy from non‐animal organisms such as trees and plants, and has since developed sensors to detect patterns that indicate disease, infestation, stress, dehydration, and seismic activity. The company's aim is to help address critical needs in natural resource management and agriculture.

Now, with CircuiTree, Voltree is hoping to inspire a young generation of scientists to learn about tree power and more. The CircuiTree science kit is built off of Voltree's bioenergy harvester technology. Kids are able to "plug in" to a tree and experiment with different strategies for activating an LED light incorporated in the kit.

CircuiTree is also a global game and data collection tool. An accompanying “Citizens Science Project” app invites young scientists to compete in a race to see who can light the most LED’s fastest, and allows them to record the voltages in various trees. The project could potentially enable global monitoring of the earth’s soil, crops, and forests by citizen scientists to add to our understanding of environmental conditions and emerging risks.

Funds raised through Kickstarter will be invested in redesigning the science kit so that it's more affordable for schools, children, and hobbyists; enhancing the app; bringing the kit to market; and developing educational materials for the kits.

For more information, visit the CircuiTree Kickstarter campaign.



Buckminster Fuller Challenge Semi-Finalists Include dMASS Nominee

The Buckminster Fuller Institute has announced semi-finalists in their 2013 Challenge. Among this year's semi-finalists is dMASS nominee Voltree Acoustic Early Detection Sensor System.

Nineteen semi-finalists were selected from a very competitive pool of entries. According to BFI, the entries showed a broad and varied set of initiatives, all characterized by a strong sense of purpose, stewardship, and humanitarian activity.

A distinguished jury, which includes John Elkington and Andrew Revkin, will meet in October to review the selected semi-finalists and select the winner of the $100,000 Challenge prize. The winner will be revealed at a ceremony in New York City in November.

dMASS selected two innovators to receive a dMASS nomination to the Buckminster Fuller Challenge this year, after conducting an in-depth screening process. With the nomination, these innovators were able to bypass two rounds of official review in the Challenge.

Voltree Power has developed bioenergy sensors that use natural voltages present in trees and plants to detect patterns that indicate disease, infestation, stress, dehydration, and seismic activity. The company has proposed an Acoustic Early Detection Sensor System to identify insect pests that threaten valuable crops and tree species. The work that goes into the development of this system will also be useful for other applications in natural resource preservation and in smart agriculture that reduces water use.

We congratulate Voltree and the other semi-finalists and look forward to the November announcement. See the complete list of semi-finalists along with descriptions and videos on the Buckminster Fuller Challenge website, and explore BFI’s Idea Index.



Greenbuild 2013: dMASS, Atelier Ten teaming up on better with less innovations for the built environment

This fall Howard Brown of dMASS and Mark Loeffler of Atelier Ten will present “Dematerializing the Built Environment: In Theory & Practice” at Greenbuild 2013. Today we’re excited to announce a partnership with Atelier Ten to identify better with less innovations in the built environment leading up to the conference. Atelier Ten is a collaborative, interdisciplinary and innovative consultancy of environmental designers, building services engineers, and lighting designers focused on delivering high-performance, low-energy solutions in the built environment. The firm has completed projects across the globe, from the UK to Singapore, Morocco, Qatar, and has offices in London, New York, San Francisco, New Haven, and Glasgow.

Look for regular contributions from the Atelier Ten team in the coming weeks in the dMASS Insights newsletter. In addition, members of the Atelier Ten team will be publishing articles on regarding projects, technologies, and design strategies they are encountering in their work.

In addition, while we continue to screen innovations for inclusion in the dMASS database and vet innovations for contests in all fields, we’re putting a call out right now particularly for the built environment. Send us your suggestions for innovations that deliver more benefits with drastically fewer resources in the built environment - we’ll select three to be featured in Howard and Mark’s Greenbuild presentation.