WATCH: Recycled mobile phones might save the forest

A US physicist has used old mobile phones to create a solar technology that can detect loggers and alert the authorities in real time.

Topher White, a physicist and engineer based in Silicon Valley, is using discarded mobile phones to save the rainforest. He has founded Rainforest Connection, a non-profit organisation that transforms old mobile phones into solar-powered microphones that can detect loggers in real time.

The devices are hidden high in the tree canopy, where they can pick up unusual sounds, such as that made by chainsaws and vehicles. When the phones detect the activity, they use the existing GSM mobile network to send an alert to the authorities in real time, explains Matt Safford at Smithsonian Magazine

Each device detects chainsaw noises that are up to 1 kilometre in the distance, and its creators suggest that each solar-powered microphone can protect up to 300 hectares of endangered forest. 

Rainforest Connection tested the device in Sumatra in 2013, and it started detecting and stopping loggers just two weeks after it was installed. 

The next step is to partner with more conservationists and implement the technology in the Amazon and Africa to stop loggers.

Watch the video below to see how the technology works: 

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