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The Wild is Calling—for Proposals

By Baccharus (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Baccharus (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The Mataki Collaboration Project: open, reconfigurable, flexible, wireless-enabled, low-cost tracking technology and data analysis software
Proposals Due March 1, 2013

To understand how changes in the environment affect endangered species, researchers first need to understand how the animals live, how they interact with each other and the environment, and how they move through and between habitats. Although there have been major advances in tracking technologies, even newer tracking systems can be expensive, uncustomizable, limited in functionality and scope, and labor-intensive to implement. And once the data is collected, there are few software tools for analyzing that type of data quickly and easily or for building predictive models from the data.

The Mataki Project, supported by Microsoft Research, University College London, and the Zoological Society of London, seeks to change all of that. Mataki is an open, reconfigurable, flexible, wireless-enabled, low-cost tracking technology that comes with software tools for data analysis. Applications of Mataki thus far have been focused on the migratory and foraging behavior or seabirds, but the project developers believe that the small tracking devices could be (and should be) used with many different species.

Mataki device

Each Mataki device has a compact size (43 x 21 x 7 mm) and weighs 6 g without a battery. Each device is equipped with a microcontroller, memory, radio transceiver, GPS Receiver, and GPS Antenna, and a light sensor/photodiode.

Check out the schematics, layouts, and parts lists for the devices, documentation on using the available firmware, and open source access to the firmware and API documentation. As the website makes clear: “We’re keen to make these devices as accessible as possible, so please get in touch if you have ideas on how to improve the devices.”

They’re so keen, in fact, that they’ve put out a call for collaboration:

Through the Technology for Nature unit (TfN), a close collaboration between University College London, Microsoft Research and the Zoological Society of London, we are holding an open call for collaborations that will provide research groups with a set of 20 all-inclusive Mataki devices for selected scientific research projects. A total of 5 projects will be selected. Proposals displaying a direct conservation benefit will be prioritised. Other aspects that will be considered are scientific merit and novelty. Given the open-source nature of Mataki, computational proposals to extend the system will also be considered.

Proposals should be submitted by March 1st, 2013, and selected collaborators will be invited to a workshop in May 2013 where they will receive devices, training and can explore the capabilities of the devices. Post-project, the TfN unit will then host a second workshop where the results of each project will be presented.

For details, contact collaboration@mataki.org or Dr. Robin Freeman, CoMPLEX, UCL. or Dr. Lucas Joppa, Microsoft Research

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