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'Solar Energy: Smart' solar palm trees power WiFi, phones in Dubai - by Saket S.

A new species of palm tree has started sprouting around Dubai. But instead of producing dates, the fronds of the Smart Palm harness the sun’s energy to allow people to look up city information, access WiFi, and charge their phones, all for free.

Topped with nine leaf-shaped photovoltaic modules, a six-meter-tall Smart Palm can generate around 7.2 kilowatt hours per day, enough to operate without ever drawing off the grid.

The two prototype palms that have already been installed - one at a beach near the Burj Al Arab hotel and other at centrally located Zabeel Park - each carry a WiFi hotspot, eight charging stations for phones and tablets, and a touch-screen panel giving local details on things like weather and transportation.

The company behind the device, Dubai-based D Idea, says connectivity is just the start of the Smart Palm’s potential.

“Subsequent Smart Palms will have ATM machines and utility bill payment services,” said CEO Viktor Nelepa. “Our team has also started to find new ways in which the Smart Palm can support other forms of sustainable generation, specifically through air and water purification modules.”

Read more: 'Smart' solar palm trees power WiFi, phones in Dubai - The Globe and Mail

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