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Smart trash bins that ask for ID before opening up

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September 12, 2012

If you think you've just about seen all there is to see in the world or modern technology, well, think again my friend... The Netherlands has recently been placing intelligent trash bins on its territory that ask for valid ID information before accepting garbage from its citizens or anybody else.

The new 'intelligent' trash bins will also let the truck know when they need to be emptied. And the initiative could be indicative of the day when we might have to pay for the stuff we don't need anymore. Is this fair you may ask? The Netherlands seem to think so.

Altogether, about 6,000 'smart trash cans' are being deployed across the country, and 'green think tank' Environmental Resource Management PLC has just estimated that one of the cities involved (Groningen) just saved itself almost US $100,000 in the first year of deployment.

Not only that, but Groningen has also managed to reduce its carbon footprint by a whopping 18.2 percent, though the city council seems more interested in the overall reduction of thefts of the bins themselves since that's what has been happening a lot lately.

To be sure, the smart trash bins are equipped with an RFID reader in the lid, and will only open when presented with some valid ID. The quantity of rubbish is then used to calculate the customer's overall bill, but things going into the recycling pile are free, so the idea will encourage people to recycle.

The garbage bins also know how much rubbish has been dumped, so they use their embedded phone to call up a truck over Vodafone's GPRS network when they're full, reducing the distance trucks have to drive, while at the same time preventing the trash bins from being full much of the time.

Vodafone and local waste-management firm Mic-O-Data, who implemented the system, are highlighting the carbon savings and green credentials, but the city council is more interested in the ability to avoid having to empty unofficial bins which were proliferating across the city.

And theft is down by more than 70 percent with the new bins. This big reduction in theft of city property has saved the council some serious money. In 2011, the council announced the smart bins helped it remove about 3,500 containers from circulation, and billed no less than 640 houses for the additional waste receptacles they were illegally using.

That's not quite so green, but it's an equally-good reason to tag the lock bins. Charging people by the weight of rubbish they produce is an obvious step, and the only one which will make customers demand reductions in packaging.

In other hi tec news

In another sign that the film industry is rapidly changing, Australian cinema chain Hoyts says it will launch its own video-on-demand streaming service in the first quarter of 2013.

Dubbed Hoyts Stream, the new service will support multi-device access and offer viewers a pay-as-you-go model for new movie release as well as classic films and traditional TV content from all over Australia.

Hoyts Stream will introduce an 'all-you-can eat' subscription model, specifically for movie and TV classics later in the year which will take on established rivals such as QuickFlix, Big Pond Movies and FetchTV.

Hoyts Chairman David Kirk said that the goal is to create a market leading digital movie streaming business, which leverages and easily integrates with Hoyts’ existing system.

The entertainment group has been experimenting with new modes of movie and content distribution and watching some international moves.

Three years ago, Hoyts acquired DVD vending machine outfit Ovie which will now be re-branded Hoyts Kiosk and integrated into the new video streaming service offering downloads in addition to physical products.

The kiosk business model boasts about 729,600 customers since the launch and currently maintains approximately 200,000 active customers overall.

In August, Sainsbury’s signed an agreement with Rovi in the United Kingdom to launch an online streaming platform for film and TV content via kiosks across its 1,000 retail outlets.

Kirk said his company understood that digital was driving a demand for more choices in how they want their movie experience delivered.

Under the digital revamp, Hoyts consumer offerings will now be framed as Cinema, Kiosk and Stream.

Source: Groningen City Council.

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