There is plenty of apps for music lovers to detect music such as SoundHound,Spotsearch and Shazam,but what about birdwatchers who are interested in knowing what’s in their locale or out on an excursion?
Chirpomatic is a new British-made app that automatically identifies birds by their song (often referred to as ‘Shazam for birdsong’). It is available in the Apple App Store now, ready for the start of the peak birdsong season.This initial release is just the beginning for Chirpomatic. The first version will identify 60 sounds from parks and gardens in Britain and Ireland. This number will increase rapidly as the app is expanded to cover other habitats.
The app is being created by iSpiny, specialists in nature apps and developers of the
very popular Chirp! birdsong app. Initially for iPhones and iPads, an Android version
Chirpomatic has been over a year in development and employs the latest cuttingedge
techniques in machine learning.
Dr Hilary Wilson from iSpiny explains, “Developing an effective automatic identifier
for bird sounds is a huge technical challenge. Human hearing is marvellous and
can pick out a bird from in amongst other sounds even if it’s a distance away, but a
microphone records everything. On top of that, birds have a very varied repertoire
of songs and calls. Recognising which bird is singing is like using speech
recognition to pick out voices in a crowd!”
The iSpiny team’s experience as naturalists and in making apps has led them to
include a couple of innovative features, not found in any other bird app:
Some nature reserves ban the use of mobile devices on their sites
because recorded songs can disturb birds. Chirpomatic solves this
problem. When ‘Bird-safe Mode’ is switched on, the user holds the phone to their ear (as though on the phone) in order to hear the sounds. This means that the app can be used silently and safely in all situations.
• Wind detection
The mildest breeze over a microphone is enough to create a loud roar on
the recording that masks all other sounds. To make sure this doesn’t
happen, Chirpomatic uses a wind detector feature developed by scientists
at Salford University. When wind is detected, the app flashes a warning so
that you can shelter the phone.
Chirpomatic is a fun way to connect with the natural world, whether out on a
country walk or in the back garden. The app is self-contained and works without a
network connection, so it can be used wherever you are.
However, as well as being fun and engaging people with nature, the app has a
more serious side. Recordings can be uploaded and will be available to zoologists,
ecologists and conservationists monitoring changes in the numbers and distribution
Chirpomatic has been over a year in development and employs the most up-to-date, cutting-edge advances in machine learning. Dr Hilary Lind from iSpiny explains the challenges: “Developing an effective automatic identifier for bird sounds is not easy. Birds have a very varied repertoire of songs and calls and recognising which bird is singing is like using speech recognition to pick out voices in a crowd. On top of that, we knew that the app had to be self-contained, so squeezing all the technology into an app was another huge hurdle that we had to overcome”.
The App is £1.99 and available on iPhone and iPad with and Android version to follow.
Source – Hilary Wilson at iSpiny