Birdwatching meets massive multi-player online gaming

Craigslist founder to host online game created by Berkeley and Texas A&M researchers

Move over "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire." Here comes CONE Sutro Forest.

The Collaborative Observatories for Natural Environments, or CONE for short, is a free game in which players earn points by aiming a robotic camera at wild birds and identifying them. The PETA-friendly system, which launched on April 23, was created by researchers at the University of California at Berkeley, and Texas A&M University.

Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist, is hosting the project from his home, which overlooks Sutro Forest in San Francisco.

"This is a new kind of massive multi-player online game," said Ken Goldberg, a UC Berkeley professor of engineering and co-principal investigator of the project, in a statement. "Rather than aiming a gun at virtual enemies, players aim a camera at live wild birds."

Goldberg worked on the collaborative control technology behind the game with Dezhen Song, assistant professor of computer science at Texas A&M, and their students. The National Science Foundation funded the project, which enables dozens of people to control remote video cameras in unison.

"It introduces highly responsive algorithms that automatically compute the optimal camera viewpoint to satisfy dozens of simultaneous players, including experts and amateurs," Goldberg says, in a statement.

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