Most of the headlines you see about Dubai probably focus on extravagant wealth and things that would seem insane in any other industrialized country (like the police driving Ferraris). However, the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates is installing one piece of technology that could be the wave of the future. Smart palm trees. The idea is to create a “smart city” by installing these self-sustaining features to provide connectivity, data, energy, and relief from the sun. The city recently installed two trees, which stand about 20 feet and are constructed of stylized white metal. The trees have solar panels on the broad palm fronds that store energy to be used in the evening. But they do so much more! Aside from storing power, the trees and seating areas below them include several charging points for mobile devices. The company behind the tree, D Idea, claims the trees will charge a device twice a fast as a home charger. You can do more than charge your phone, though. You can also use the Internet. The tree includes a built-in WiFi hotspot that extends for about around 300 feet in every direction. Additionally, D Idea included a “user friendly” touch screen where information about the city (in multiple languages!) is provided. The company also made safety a priority. Each tree has a 360-degree infrared camera, closed-circuit television camera and an emergency button. Right now, D Idea has a contract with the city to put the trees in 103 locations. Several cities in the U.S. have tried public solar charging stations, but nothing as ambitious as 103 locations. New York and San Francisco have both installed solar energy stations, but the rest of the country is still catching up. Maybe the U.S. should start looking at the sun a bit more closely. You know, just not literally.
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