Sony’s new volunteering app: +U

On March 25, 2012 by joemaduma

I am excited about Sony’s new smart-phone app +U for two reasons, firstly because it really has the potential to accelerate volunteering and sustainable actions on a micro level and secondly because I have also been following the progress of this project since it first won Sony’s Open Planet Ideas competition (a collaborative crowd-sourcing initiative between Sony, WWF and design and innovation firm IDEO) back in January of last year. Back then +U was a fledgling concept under the name of Greenbook (the idea being ‘Facebook for vounteering’).  It showed lots of promise and over the year there have been a number of workshops with Sony engineers working with feedback from the Facebook page to refine it into the finished article.

+U is the answer to an open source brief by Sony that asked “How can today’s technology help make the most of our planet’s resources?”. Paul Frigout +U’s creator wanted to create an app that made volunteering quicker, easier and more social. It works by simply downloading the app onto your Android phone and then using it to locate volunteering opportunities in your local area. Once you have completed your task you will receive a badge to reward and thank you for your work. You can also share your experiences on Facebook which is a great idea since 35% of the UK population are more likely to volunteer if their friends and family are involved too. The idea is for this to run across Europe too, so to kick it all off they are launching with the UK charity Do-it, a national volunteering database.

It’s a really good look for Sony to be seen as pushing the envelope in terms of what is possible for technology and sustainability at a mainstream level. And the really excting thing is that +U coding is open source, meaning that anyone can download it and adapt it to their own needs. This means that it really is only the start for +U and the impact could be huge. In fact another Good Design favourite ‘Good For Nothing‘ are doing just that this coming weekend with their hackathon ‘Make/Time‘ a 48hr making and development session with three specific aims: “1 Make the +U app work  for the biggest aggregator of volunteering opportunities in France: Espace Benevolat 2. Make the +U app work for Thames 21 , an innovative London based charity and help them encourage more people to make time for the upkeep of the capital’s waterways 3. Hack +U into something awesome. Free-range, make some magic. Which can make others make time for those in need.” It’s going to be very cool to see what comes out of the weekend and Good Design will be sure to bring you the update as soon as it’s released.

For more event information and to take part in ‘Make/Time’ visit the new events page on Good Design.

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