In the world of green gadgets, the iPad is a step forward. Free of arsenic, mercury, PVC, and other nasty materials, it boasts an aluminum-glass enclosure that is "highly recyclable" and involves little packaging. Its power consumption of around 2.5 watts is low and less than a desktop computer, notebook, or even a netbook. In the world of green electronics, the iPad is making the right moves.
One of the areas where the iPad could be a game-changer involves the connecting of cars, grids, and smart transportation in general. From apps that help with booking Zipcars and opening doors with the press of a button to monitoring your electric vehicle’s onboard computer, the iPad is pushing the boundaries of what it means to be a green-traveling citizen.
But how can you use your iPad to be a greener gadget owner? Read on for 14 ideas.
Manage Home Energy Use with Visible Energy
Devices to manage your home energy-environment are brilliant. Young startup Visible Energy was an early advocate of turning to the iPhone for home-energy management. The FCC even gave kudos to the company’s iPhone app as an example of how IT can help the environment and global warming. Visible Energy is creating an iPad version of its iPhone app, called UFO Power Center, which has a slick interface and lets you check out visually all the ways you use power.
Drive Efficiently In Your Nissan LEAF
Nissan has been working on an iPhone app that connects the electric LEAF car to a network and allows you to monitor battery charging and temperature controls (on/off). The LEAF, which will cost $33,000 without the app, doesn’t go on sale until the end of December, so it’s safe to expect to wait that long for the iPad application to debut. It’ll probably be a great way to check on the efficiency of your driving skills (think: don’t accelerate fast) as well as peek inside the inner workings of an electric vehicle. This is probably the first car with a networked application, but certainly not the last.
Carry It in a ColcaSac
The iPad is just a big iPod Touch, right? Wrong. The glossy, bigger screen may actually require a more substantial case to keep it safe. ColcaSac’s iPad case is made of stuff that’s tough but also Earth-easy: canvas with a soft sherpa lining. Made by hand in Salt Lake City, the sac offers a lot of protection without the environmental problems of producing neoprene, which is the typical carrying case material. It sells for $30. ColcaSac is one of the first companies to offer just-for-iPad eco-cases–many others are sneaking iPads in their 10" notebook cases, but it may be more efficient to have a case that’s designed for the slimmer profile of the iPad itself.
Charge It with Solio Solar Charger
There will probably be lots of players in the solar, iPad-charger game, but this first week there is one company that has jumped out in front: Solio. The Solio Rocsta H1000 is a durable solar charger that can go anywhere as long as it’s sunny. It can be charged from a wall socket in under three hours or in direct sunlight in about 10 hours. The charger has a lithium ion battery and puts out five watts of power. That equals 3.5 hours of talk time on your iPhone or 27 hours of playtime on your iPod Touch–and even more with the iPad. It's got one highly efficient solar panel and is great if you need to take your iPad trekking with you (though I’m not sure a $500 gadget really belongs in the wilderness).
Warning for those who live in cloudy climates (ahem, San Francisco): all of the solar chargers require direct sunlight, so for best results you need to be sure your charger is outside, under direct sunlight with no clouds and even adjust the angle of the collector as the sun moves across the sky for maximum charge.
Charge It Better with Solio Magnesium Solar Charger
Platinum? No way. Magnesium! Solio's magnesium edition solar charger is the top-of-the-line solar charger that Solio offers. It's got three ultra-efficient-grade solar panels and a giant lithium-ion battery and pumps out a massive eight watts of power. That translates into over five hours of talk time on your iPhone and 49 hours of playtime on your iPod touch–and days more on your iPad. The design is similar to Solio’s other chargers, but the materials are more durable and ready for dropping or shaking. This is a top-of-the-line solar charger for your iPad. It's probably the best on the market for efficiency and environmental friendliness. No commercially available solar charger is ideal, but if you’ve got to charge, this is a good way to stay off the grid.
Use iPad to Control Heat, Lighting, Security and Entertainment
Control4’s iPad app was the only green-leaning official iPad application we could find as of iPad launch time. The free app turns the iPad into your central home dashboard, letting you be in control of a connected thermostat, lighting, entertainment systems (video or audio), and home security. Of course, before all this will work, you need to purchase and get a dealer to install the proprietary Control4 system in your home. Meanwhile, an iPad app really plays into the sweet spot of Control4’s offering: a high-end home product, slick design, and a dashboard with rich media. Turn off the lights and heat from afar–Control4 puts the power to control your pad into your iPad.
Share Cars on the iPad with ZipCar
ZipCar created a free iPhone app that enables members of the car-share service to find, reserve, and lock/unlock ZipCars via the iPhone. Zipcar, a membership-based carsharing company providing cars by the hour or day, is green because it allows city-dwellers to share cars and parking rather than own vehicles themselves. For the newly planned iPad version, ZipCar’s service could use the larger screen to integrate more rich media, including navigation, directions, advice for tourists, and even syncing with audio and visual content. Zipcar is definitely revamping its iPhone app for the iPad, but has yet to say how many new functions will be involved.
Try Another Home-Energy Dashboard: Tendril
Monitoring your power usage has never been easier or more beautiful than with the iPad. The six-year-old home-energy management startup plans to release an iPhone app to both select utility customers and consumers this year. Dubbed Tendril Vantage Mobile, the iPhone app will enable users to see home-energy consumption in real time, view dynamic pricing changes, and control connected appliances and thermostats remotely. Like with Control4’s application, the iPad version could offer a superior centralized dashboard for home-energy management compared to what the iPhone offers.
Carry It in a Pakuma Eco Cocoon
It sucks when things that look green are actually produced in stupidly non-green ways. That’s not the case with the Pakuma Eco Cocoon case, which is made from 100% recyclable materials like plastic bottles, foam, paper, and soy inks. While we’re not thrilled that the 10" netbook case leaves a little gap for the slimmer-than-laptop iPad, the memory-foam components mean that the device will be kept safe in the special cocoon system. The case has a zipper lip to prevent scratching, a front pocket for additional accessories, and is guaranteed for life (which is hopefully how long it’ll last at the price of around $30).
Slip It Into a Bamboo Case or Stand
Here’s a double-dipping idea that has a renewable component to boot: a sustainable bamboo case that can also serve as a stand for your shiny new iPad. It comes from Vers Audio. The top-loading slipcase will sell for $79.99 and will be available later in April, according to the company. A peg flips out the back and makes the case into a solid stand for a table or desk, while it looks solid and the hardwood is a great color. The company says that no gadget is truly green, but it is taking steps to become less brown.
Install Go Green App for Tips
Go Green app gives you a little life-helping tip every time you open it up. For example, it told me to buy shade-grown coffee (duh). While some reviewers have pointed out that the tips can be a little outdated and reductionist, an idea might just inspire you before you get to your Netflix queue on the iPad. Plus, it’s free.
Install Shopgreen App for Footprint Info
Shopgreen for $0.99 sounds like it would be a shopping site, but in truth, it’s a place to figure out your carbon footprint, as well as the footprint of the stuff you’re buying. It can tell you where the closest recycling center is located, the CO2 footprint of your recent meal out at the corner restaurant, or the most-recent news from the Environmental Protection Agency. On the iPad, Shopgreen could be built out to include even more visual information. We hope to see an expanded version soon.
Carry It in Eco Vue Folio
Marware has announced a new lineup of eco-friendly iPad cases, which both please the senses and the planet. The Eco Vue iPad Folio is professional enough to take into a boardroom and looks great next to our moleskin notebooks. This iPad folio has a cover that opens like a book to make a great iPad stand. It closes with a tab closure and an elastic strap and the interior is soft microfiber to keep your iPad safe and scratch free. Marware makes its products from "eco-leather," which is a tanning process that uses fewer toxins and minimizes the risk of the toxic chemicals leaking into the water table and ground. This case retails for $44.99.
Install Garden To-Do App for an Efficient Garden
The iPad is a great device to keep around the house–recipes, grocery lists, and even chores have a way of finding themselves onto the device. Organizing your garden is just one small extra step that you can do with the Gardening To-Do app, which keeps track of planting, fertilizing, pruning, and everything else that keeps your garden green. With the increased speed and gorgeous images on the iPad, this app could be built out further to include plant info and even information on your local humidity, temperature, and air pollution conditions, with tips on what to plant and when.