Email-a-Tree and Netflix Socks


‘Email-a-tree’ service takes an interesting turn.
The City of Melbourne contains around 70,000 trees – all of which have been mapped in a project called Urban Forest Visual which aims to keep track of individual tree health and life span by assigning each tree an identification number.

The hope is to;

  • increase canopy cover
  • increase urban forest diversity
  • improve vegetation health
  • improve soil moisture and water quality
  • improve urban ecology
  • inform and consult with the community

In an effort to help incorporate this last point, each tree was assigned an email. The idea being that individuals could email through any issues spotted with that particular tree, e.g. vandalism, broken or low hanging branches, and so on.

This isn’t quite what happened. Instead, people wrote thousands of love letters to their favourite neighbourhood trees.

This was an unexpected, unwarranted, but perhaps lovely turn of events. The best part? The trees responded.

This didn’t quite pan out the way they were hoping, but what it certainly did do is bring Urban Forest Visual awareness to the community, and further afield. Some of the trees received emails from people living in the U.S, Europe, and beyond.

While this is a more unique branch of IoT, delving into the possibilities of IoTr (Internet of Trees) – it is another great example of the possibilities of the ever growing connected world.

Netflix socks

Netflix have also taken an unexpected but welcomed step into a more obscure use of IoT, with Netflix Socks.

Not only have Netflix revolutionised the way we watch TV, but they’re also about to revolutionise the way we watch Netflix. I know I’m not the only person who’s partial to a Netflix binge, starting a new show expecting to watch a couple of episodes to see if I get into it – when suddenly it’s 3AM, I’m halfway through season 2 and have lost all sense of shame when Netlfix asks ‘Are you still watching?’

Their second invention in their DIY section to accompany ‘The Switch’. Netflix Socks will pause your show automatically, to ensure you don’t miss a minute. Which means you can avoid the devastating moment of waking up, not knowing how much you missed, and accidentally stumbling upon some unwelcomed spoilers.

Netflix socks detects when you’ve fallen asleep and sends a signal to your TV, which then pauses the show. Making Netflix socks from scratch requires a little knitting and electronics building, or revamping some existing socks in lieu of any knitting skills. Step by step guide here. This will give you the basic guide to building your very own Netflix socks, but also some inspiration at the bottom of the page for how you can tweak and customise.

The sleep detection system has been based on a method called actigraphy – which is a non-invasive way of monitoring human rest/activity cycles. Much better than going down the invasive route – perhaps wouldn’t have yielded as much positive feedback.

When the accelerometer detects that you’ve dozed off, an LED in the cuff off the sock will flash a red warning light to show that the pause signal is about to be triggered – any motion will stop this from firing. The accelerometer is very sensitive, which means it’s good at detecting when you’re just sitting still, and when you’ve actually fallen asleep.

It’s definitely a solution to a problem not many people talk about, and another interesting use of IoT – constantly changing the way we live.