The creators of a new e-trash can hope to solve littering by rewarding those who use it. The e-can, developed by Sean Auriti, designed the trash receptacle to look just like any ordinary trash can upon initial viewings. However, the receptacle is equipped with infrared sensors to detect whenever something is deposited into it, and a barcode scanner to determine what the object is that has been thrown away (if the discarded object has a barcode). A screen then allows users to identify themselves with a login and password. The e-trash can is powered completely by solar energy, and rewards those who use it with a cryptocurrency that Aruiti invented, Emrals.
Auriti describes the currency as more human version of Bitcoin. Instead of being mined by machines, it will be mined by humans accomplishing real world tasks. Future versions of the trash can will be enabled with wifi. The Brooklyn, New York based inventor of the garbage receptacle imagines a future where e-trash cans will be on every corner, mining Emrals and providing free wifi. The Emrals are hoped to be able to be exchanged for actual currency, or at least discounts on products in specific stores.
The receptacle requires the user to type in a pin number upon throwing away an item. If the item does not have a barcode, users are encouraged to take a picture of the item so the device can identify it. Auriti and his team at Alpha One Labs have three working trash cans and a working alpha for the Emrals app. He most recently demoed the technology at New York City’s Consumer Electronics Week. The e-trash can that rewards those who use it is priced around $380. The first prototype was assembled with a cheap solar panel, battery, Raspberry Pi, and touch screen.
Alpha One Labs hopes to use the technology globally. They are currently looking for sponsors and one of their plans is to first install versions of their trash can at New York Yankee’s games to garner interest in the technology. Observers have noted that the e-trash can possibly be a burden on users who don’t want to take a picture of their trash every time they must throw something away, or type in a username and password.
The Emrals app, beyond earning and tracking your cryptocurrency, allows users to geotag trash found on the street and place an Emral value on it. Then whenever someone throws that trash away, they will be rewarded those Emrals. These geotags are named “dirt alerts.” Auriti is currently working on installing the e-trash can on college campuses. Evgeny Morozov from The Wall Street Journal commented on this type of technology, criticizing it for incentivizing doing environmentally friendly tasks. Morozov says that the reward system for these actions are not working towards actually improving the environment, but instead selfishly rewarding oneself. Auriti says that improving the environment is a primary concern. The creator of the e-trash can stated that he wants to live to 150, and improving the environment will help him do that.
By Andres Loubriel