Twitchers go high tech

Ornithologists tired of sitting still for hours in wet and windy conditions can now keep an eye on their feathered friends from the comfort of their own home, thanks to a technology developed by chip maker Intel Corp.

The company has been working closely with scientists at Berkeley University in California and biologists from Atlantic College in Maine to develop miniaturised sensors, known as motes, which can be fitted into birds' natural habitats to monitor their movements, eating and breading habits.

Up until now, the biologists have been manually monitoring Petrel seabirds on at the remote Great Duck Island off the coast of Maine using a cumbersome camera and an old fashioned pad and pen. This meant costly trips to and from the island, as well as the risk of damaging the birds' habitat.

Now they can upgrade to the mote devices. These are slightly bigger than the two AA batteries that power them and communicate information via infrared to a central notebook computer located in the island's lighthouse. This then sends the data back via satellite for analysis at the universities.

"There is nothing [else] like this sensor network available for conservation biologists, nothing that can provide good quality data in such dense numbers," said John Anderson associate dean and conservation biologist at Maine's Atlantic college.

"What's really exciting about this is that we can get a feel for what happens on the island when humans aren't there. This kind of sensor network will have a profound effect on how we view this field of ecology," he added.

Each mote contains sensors which can communicate with each other at 40KBps (kilobytes per second) via radio signals.

Costs and risk of causing ecological damage were minimised by linking the relay sensor (which uses the most power) to a solar panel, leaving the motes to run on the AA batteries for over six months and keeping visits to the island to a minimum.

The motes are self-organising, using their moving sensors to search for signals from neighbouring networks and then adapt to changes in position.

All data collected can be viewed at www.greatduckisland.net.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Wendy Brewer

PC World
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?