Bird Buddy: AI in bird feeders
It looks like a robotic birdhouse from the future ready to house labmade artificial species, like in a real science fiction movie. Someone also claims that, by looking at it, it brings to mind a smart, nice and elegant doorbell. The truth is it is nothing more than a “simple” bird feeder, which can be positioned outside your home, so that birds of all kinds can stop for a short lunch break.
What makes Bird Buddy so special is the presence of an integrated camera connected to an artificial intelligence that allows the system to recognize more than 1000 different bird species. The camera takes pictures of the birds that stop on your Bird Buddy and then saves the images directly on your mobile phone, through the dedicated app. Besides, this sends real time notifications when a bird host rests on the feeder.
The idea was born in 2020, from the minds of seven Slovenian boys from Ljublijana (capital of Slovenia). To finance their project, the kids turned to KickStarter, the US website that “exists to help bring creative projects to life”. The initial target of € 50,000 was far exceeded. A little more than 15 days before the end of the crowdfunding campaign, almost 2.5 million euros were raised, with more than 14,300 supporters.
The camera has a 5MP lens and can shoot 720p video, with a 120° field of view. Once the image or video is captured, the artificial intelligence is able to recognize the bird species. If the bird’s stop is really short and the photo taken is blurry, the presence of a built-in microphone, it can still recognize which bird is approaching by hearing it sing.
In addition to being a fun gadget that also seems a sort of game, given that each recognized bird unlocks a badge, Bird Buddy would also be an important open-source platform that, thanks to the data collected, would help scholars to follow birds’ migratory flows.
The creators also took into consideration the environment. First of all, a part of the proceedings will go towards buying birdfood. Then, bird feeders are made of very resistant recycled plastics, while the module can be easily detached and replaced by a new one, without having to throw away the entire unit. Furthermore, for those who do not want to use the USB-C cable to recharge it and make their new gadget even more sustainable, there is also the possibility of powering it with solar energy, through the addition of a small solar panel.
The cost of a unit should be around 150 euros, including shipping costs. You will also receive a bird feeding guide with your feeder, suitable for both beginners and bird experts. To be able to place the smart eating house on your balcony, or in your garden, you will have to wait until September 2021, that is when the first deliveries are expected.