Innovations That Matter

Animal bio-logging tags

Bio-logging tags warn animals of human threats


Postgraduate designers and engineers have developed bio-logging tags to help animals be aware of any potential threats from humans.

Animal habitats face a number of threats and many innovations seek to improve conservation efforts. An app from the US uses facial recognition to identify endangered primates. Another example is sensor devices from Brazil which monitor and protect Brazilian rainforests. A new device to prevent animal extinction has been developed by postgraduate designers and engineers from the Royal College of Art and Imperial College London. Feeling that current conservation efforts were too passive, their device, Augmented Nature, intervenes in nature conservation. The bio-logging tags serve two purposes. They monitor animals and environments and they actively alert animals when there are human threats nearby.

The project has two prototype device designs. The first is for Humpback Whales who are endangered in some areas. Ship engine noises disturb Humpback Whales and they are also at risk due to ship collisions, over fishing and climate change. The device aims to tackle this problem by producing sound prompts that help Humpback Whales avoid shipping lanes. The second device is for the Collared Peccary, a type of pig in the Amazon rainforest that are critical to the Amazonian ecosystem. However, deforestation, illegal hunting and habitat loss has left the Collared Peccary at risk of extinction. The device gives vibration signals to warn them to stay away from poachers.

Arthur Gouillart, a designer in the Augmented Nature project said: “We chose to design for these animals because they are ecosystem engineers. Like humans, they engineer their environment, but not only for their own benefit, they also bring food and shelter to other species when doing so.”

The Augmented Nature project intervenes in ecosystems, giving animals and environments active assistance in conservation. The devices will also enable researchers to learn more about these species. What other innovation ideas can help support biodiversity conservation?




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