Most of us are comfortable with the notion of our devices talking to each other, from our personal fitness wearables communicating with our phones (“hey, I walked six miles today and burned 600 calories!”) to our lights or thermostats being triggered by our leaving or returning to our homes. This concept, termed the Internet of Things (or IoT) represents the breaking down of traditional barriers between technologies, and creating new connections that allow technologies to operate in novel ways.
At CTT we have taken the Internet of Things into the biological realm in something we have termed the Internet of Wildlife. We’ve done this for several reasons, most notable are the weight:transmission-system ratio, and the limitations of physical infrastructure. Since part of the weight equation is the transmission system used to transmit the data from the animal to the researcher, very light transmitters are typically limited to user-deployed infrastructure; think Motus stations and radio telemetry, for instance. This is in contrast to devices like GPS/GSM units that can weight 15 – 90+ grams and can be placed on many larger animals from falcons to condors, and raccoons to lions, and which can transmit their data to pre-existing cellular network. At CTT we’ve always asked, “what if our tiniest transmitters could send their data to larger units deployed on co-occurring species, and therefore reach the GSM or Satellite network typically reserve for larger units?”. THIS, is the Internet of Wildlife.
Today our GPS/GSM transmitters can be equipped with Internet of Wildlife technology to not only collect high-resolution GPS and various on-board sensor data, but also listen for transmissions of other animals tagged with our LifeTag or PowerTag UHF radio transmitters. While this may sound like Science fiction, it’s actually going on right now in southern New Jersey! In the fall of 2018 two Black Vultures were equipped with this new technology, and currently augment the existing and growing 434MHz Motus-compatible infrastructure on the ground in the region.
Do you have a species or multiple species that you work with which you think would be good candidates for Internet of Wildlife equipped transmitters? Currently we can make these units down to 30g, small enough for Ferruginous Hawks, Red-tailed Hawks, and everything larger! Get in touch with us now do discuss your project and bring the Internet of Wildlife to your research project today.