Hot on the heels of GE's Ecomagination Challenge, a crowdsourced promotional effort to develop power grid technologies, Sony Europe has launched a promotional crowdsourcing venture of its own. Open Planet Ideas, a website launched in conjunction with the WWF and the design firm IDEO, is being billed as an "online community incubator for collaborative technology solutions to critical environmental issues."
Sony is asking participants to get inspiration from nine existing Sony technologies: wireless microphone, GPS, presence sensing, sweep panorama, peer-to-peer software, PSP Go, remote video monitoring, dye sensitized solar cells, and FeliCa (contactless wireless communication between two devices).
And the ideas have to be feasible using current technology. Sony explains:
We’re not trying to create new products here: that’s the job of our engineers and designers. The spirit of this challenge is what we call "the art of the possible." We think that the answers to some of our biggest environmental challenges could be solvable with the tools that we already have. All that’s needed is applying them in radically new ways.
To that end, Sony plans to release all information and documentation from the winning idea into the public domain. Because Sony is purely altruistic here—never mind that all the ideas involve Sony products and all of the advisers who will judge the entries are Sony employees.
And unlike GE's $200 million prize bounty, Sony won't be offering any cash.
Can a crowdsourced competition without a major reward really take off? We'll find out soon—submissions will be accepted from October 11th until November 29th.