What's the Latest?

Amateur ornithologists will be delighted to hear scientists at Queen Mary University in London have developed a new technology that works much like the app Shazam, except instead of identifying that old Gin Blossoms tune couldn't remember, the new tech will be able to ID species of birds simply by listening to their calls. It's a fascinating example of nature researchers tapping into "feature learning," which analyzes raw data against information already stored in a database. Although the new technology is only in its infant stages, it has already stirred the imaginations of birders and scientists alike.

What's the Big Idea?

Until the development of this new technology, identifying birds by their calls has been the sort of thing only the most ardent birders could pull off. If this new technology were to be developed into a smartphone app, amateur enthusiasts would be able to take part in bird watching with relative ease. Practical everyday use is only the beginning of the researchers' vision. They hope the new technology will allow them to map out different species' vocal development and maybe even help provide insight on the nature of human vocals as well.

When Shazam-for-Birders does reach your smartphone, it'll give a whole new meaning to "tweeting."

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Photo credit: Gerald A. DeBoer / Shutterstock