Skip to main content

Artificial tree promises to suck up as much air pollution as a small forest

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Trees are nature’s way of cleaning the air, but they come with the downside of needing time in order to grow. A Mexican startup called Biomitech has a way around this, however. The company has developed an artificial tree that it claims is capable of sucking up the equivalent amount of air pollution as 368 living trees. That’s not only a saving on growing time, but also on the space needed to accommodate them.

Called Biourban, the near 14-foot metal tree employs microalgae that pulls carbon dioxide and other contaminants from the air and returns pure oxygen in exchange. Since launching in 2016, the company has installed one tree its home city of Puebla, Mexico, another in Columbia, and a third in Panama. It has additional contracts for two more trees in Mexico, and the possibility of “planting” others in Mexico City and Monterrey.

“What this system does, through technology, is inhale air pollution and use biology to carry out the natural process [of photosynthesis], just like a tree,” Jaime Ferrer, a founding partner in Biomitech, told TechXplore.

It’s a fascinating idea. Biomitech’s goal is to help cities to achieve cleaner air in scenarios where it’s not feasible to plant the massive number of trees that would be necessary to achieve this the natural way. That’s a worthy ambition since, according to the World Health Organization, an estimated 7 million people die from exposure to air pollution each year. That is more than five times the almost 1.25 million people who die in road crashes each year. The downside of the project is that each tree costs around $50,000. If it saves even one life per year that’s worth it, but it may price the company’s solution out of the market for certain parts of the world where this technology would be much-needed.

This isn’t the only project of its kind. German firm Green City Solutions has developed the CityTree, a large vertically installed square of moss culture which uses photosynthesis to clean the surrounding air. CityTree also boasts special sensors that allow it to collect environmental and climatic data, as well as transmitting digital and visual information using technologies such as Wi-Fi and NFC.

Luke Dormehl
I'm a UK-based tech writer covering Cool Tech at Digital Trends. I've also written for Fast Company, Wired, the Guardian…
AI turned Breaking Bad into an anime — and it’s terrifying
Split image of Breaking Bad anime characters.

These days, it seems like there's nothing AI programs can't do. Thanks to advancements in artificial intelligence, deepfakes have done digital "face-offs" with Hollywood celebrities in films and TV shows, VFX artists can de-age actors almost instantly, and ChatGPT has learned how to write big-budget screenplays in the blink of an eye. Pretty soon, AI will probably decide who wins at the Oscars.

Within the past year, AI has also been used to generate beautiful works of art in seconds, creating a viral new trend and causing a boon for fan artists everywhere. TikTok user @cyborgism recently broke the internet by posting a clip featuring many AI-generated pictures of Breaking Bad. The theme here is that the characters are depicted as anime characters straight out of the 1980s, and the result is concerning to say the least. Depending on your viewpoint, Breaking Bad AI (my unofficial name for it) shows how technology can either threaten the integrity of original works of art or nurture artistic expression.
What if AI created Breaking Bad as a 1980s anime?
Playing over Metro Boomin's rap remix of the famous "I am the one who knocks" monologue, the video features images of the cast that range from shockingly realistic to full-on exaggerated. The clip currently has over 65,000 likes on TikTok alone, and many other users have shared their thoughts on the art. One user wrote, "Regardless of the repercussions on the entertainment industry, I can't wait for AI to be advanced enough to animate the whole show like this."

Read more
4 simple pieces of tech that helped me run my first marathon
Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar displaying pace information.

The fitness world is littered with opportunities to buy tech aimed at enhancing your physical performance. No matter your sport of choice or personal goals, there's a deep rabbit hole you can go down. It'll cost plenty of money, but the gains can be marginal -- and can honestly just be a distraction from what you should actually be focused on. Running is certainly susceptible to this.

A few months ago, I ran my first-ever marathon. It was an incredible accomplishment I had no idea I'd ever be able to reach, and it's now going to be the first of many I run in my lifetime. And despite my deep-rooted history in tech, and the endless opportunities for being baited into gearing myself up with every last product to help me get through the marathon, I went with a rather simple approach.

Read more
This bracelet helps you fall asleep faster and sleep longer
woman-in-bed-wearing-twilight-apollo-on-ankle

This content was produced in partnership with Apollo Neuroscience.
Have you been struggling to get the recommended seven hours of sleep? It's always frustrating when you get in bed at a reasonable time, then toss and turn for a hours before you actually sleep. The quality of that sleep is important too. If you're waking up multiple times during the night, you're likely not getting the quality REM cycle sleep that truly rejuvenates your body. If traditional remedies like herbal teas and noise machines just aren't helping, maybe it's time to try a modern solution. Enter the Apollo wearable.

Now we understand being a little skeptical. How can a bracelet on your wrist or ankle affect your sleep patterns? Certainly the answer to a better night's sleep can't be so simple. We considered these same things when we first heard of it. We'll dive deeper into the science behind the Apollo wearable, but suffice it to say that many people have experienced deeper, uninterrupted sleep while wearing one.
A non-conventional approach to better sleep

Read more