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Animals & Tech: 6 Lighthearted Stories to Kick Off the… | SignalWire

Animals & Tech: 6 Lighthearted Stories to Kick Off the New Year

2020 was a rough year for everybody. But now it’s over, TGI2021!!! 2020 seemed to be a year buried in constant bad news, but a few uplifting stories about techy animals might have slid under your radar. From GPS turtle eggs to video matching schemes that rehome rescue cats, these stories are sure to warm your heart and brighten your new year.

Decoy GPS eggs track down endangered sea turtle poachers

In order to stop the illegal trade of baby sea turtles, researchers are placing decoy eggs into nests on beaches in Central America to track down poachers. The GPS-enabled decoy, named “InvestEggator,” was developed to combat the poaching of endangered sea turtles and their eggs, but they may be used to help other animals in the future. Typically, turtles are smuggled from beaches and sold as delicacies to supermarkets and restaurants. The egg decoys are very difficult to distinguish from real eggs and have already led the researchers directly to some poachers. Tech is saving the turtles!

Invite a llama to your next video conference

Too many long boring company video conference meetings? Why not spice things by inviting a goat or llama on the call? A farm sanctuary called Sweet Farm in California is offering a service that allows a llama, goat, or cow to make an appearance on your next video call. Because why not? The whole idea is to simply lighten the mood during the global pandemic while raising awareness – proceeds go towards the effort to rescue farm animals and educate the public on the negative impacts of industrialized farming.

U.S. Army trains dogs with augmented reality goggles

Augmented-reality ‘doggles’ have been designed for canines working special missions in the U.S. military. Goggles were already used for eye protection for military dogs, but to create mixed-reality goggles, an optoelectronic element was added to create a heads-up display where visual cues are placed in a digital overlay of the real world to guide animals in the real world. A military working dog is typically hunting down narcotics, explosives, and occasionally even people. The goggles are connected to a command interface, allowing the handler to see what the dog is seeing and communicate in real time from a safe distance. A simple click on an object will send the canine to go check it out.

We can now translate bat talk. Turns out they argue a lot

The Egyptian fruit bat is a highly social animal that roosts in crowded colonies. Just like any other animal, they communicate with each other, but it was recently discovered that their high-pitched squeaks were actually communicating specific problems. Originally, scientists thought the noises were entirely random, but they were able to classify 4 different categories of their calls. And they are ALL about arguing. Common causes for disputes include: food, sleeping positions, unwanted mating advances, and violations of personal space. Similar to humans using different tones of voice with different people, the bats’ calls can change depending on who they’re talking to. This, particularly, is pretty rare as far as humans are aware, as only dolphins and a handful of other species have been known to communicate this way.

Bunny the dog has been communicating with humans through TikTok

Bunny the dog has over 5 million TikTok followers who want to hear to what she has to say. She can communicate specific things by hitting different combinations of buttons on a board that each play pre-recorded words. The board is an augmentative and alternative communication device used to generate speech, typically a tool for nonverbal people. A study is being done at UC Sandiego to see if Bunny and other animals like her can really communicate using language. The study now includes over 700 creatures including dogs, cats, and horses. The hope is to study their cognition and determine how their communication works. The most puzzling part of this to researchers is the animals’ concepts of time and space – Bunny has demonstrated an understanding of words like ‘morning,’ ‘yesterday,’ and ‘tomorrow.’ Thanks to Bunny, we could learn a lot about how animals think!

Video matching scheme rehomes thousands of cats

Back in March of 2020, an animal charity called Cats Protection launched a program called “Hands Free Homing” to rehome cats during lockdown restrictions by delivering them right to your doorstep. The charity has helped to rehome over 10,000 cats since the launch of the program, which uses interactive video technology to match prospective adopters with cats, and then their new pet is delivered right to their home. In 2021 you can really get anything delivered!

If you’re looking for more ways to brighten the new year, the FreeSWITCH team will be celebrating online in February with ClueCon TGI2021! Learn something new with free open source workshops and watch brilliant presentations by industry experts, all for free and from the comfort of your own home. Who knows, we might even invite a llama.