The links between technology and animals
Animals and technology rarely mix. You’ll probably be able to attest to this if you have ever tried to use a keyboard with a cat in the general vicinity—or wondered why the supposed geniuses of the “Jurassic Park” movies keep going back to the well when the dinosaurs really don’t like being held captive.
But there are plenty of situations where animals and tech can go hand-in-hand, or hand-in-paw, or hand-in-wing. Well … you get the idea.
Now, we’re not just talking about those cool little ipad apps that let your pet chase some fish around the screen (as cute as that is).
No, we’re talking about beneficial innovations for our animal friends—the kind that allow us to better understand their behaviour, co-exist with them, and even turn the tide of their extinction levels.
And there is no shortage of amazing technological advancements that humanity is using to benefit the animal kingdom.
Charlotte’s World Wide Web
We generally associate animals and mobile phones in two possible scenarios: watching them in funny videos on the Internet; or filming them in funny videos to post on the Internet.
But the Seattle Zoo is trying to take the technology a few steps further.
In an effort to create more meaningful interactions for visitors, the zoo is trialling an app with the Rhino Reserve. It will be triggered by beacons around the zoo, and the notifications will give patrons access to phone content that is more meaningful and engaging than just the usual signage placed around enclosures.
The zoo has also created a virtual reality experience for visitors to go behind-the-scenes of the animals’ daily lives. The thinking behind this tech is that, with more understanding, comes more respect and appreciation for animals.
“The thinking behind this tech is that, with more understanding, comes more respect and appreciation for animals.”
The Call of the Wild
We tend to think of GPS as a technology exclusively for us—that lifesaver that gets you from point A to point B, or even just out of a parking lot that seems like a hedge maze. But increasingly, GPS is being used to study the intricacies of animal behaviour and movement.
Scientists use all kinds of different Global Positioning Systems to track where animals go, and why they go there.
And the types of animals that are being tracked is not as obvious as you might think. While there are those you’d expect: cattle, big cats and even wolves, there are some more unusual ones as well.
In Myanmar, bats are being tracked with GPS devices that will monitor how they move with changing climate conditions, to give them safe places to settle and protect humans from diseases they may carry.
Then there are even tech innovations that go beyond traditional GPS. Badgers, who spend a lot of time underground, are being tracked with wires that mark changes in magnetic fields.
Deep Bluetooth Sea
The world of movies has never done sharks many favours. From “Jaws” to “The Shallows” to the soon-to-be-released “The Meg”—about a 75-foot prehistoric shark that will do its best to relieve us of Jason Statham’s acting talents—one of the ocean’s most majestic creatures gets a pretty bad rap.
And because of this stigma, shark numbers have been decreasing over the years—culled in an effort to make beaches more appealing and ‘safer’ for humans.
But once again, technology is attempting to be the saving grace in an otherwise divisive situation. Organisations are now looking at drone technology with advanced cameras that can see under the surface of the water. Any sightings would then be sent as warnings to people via a smartphone notification.
Technology is constantly making our lives better and easier, and it is our responsibility to allow it to do the same thing for the animals that bring us so much help and joy.
We must remain conscientious, compassionate and sustainable in our interactions with animals—and technology is a responsible way to do that.
But, if Jeff Goldblum has taught us anything, let’s leave the dinosaur thing alone.
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