Wednesday, March 26, 2014

When Ecology meets Sensor Networks …

Check out this beautiful and novel installation by Brian Mayton, Gershon Dublon, Glorianna Davenport, Joe Paradiso and many other partners and partnering institutions (UMass Boston, Massachusetts Division of Ecological Restoration, etc). They have created sensor networks that document ecological processes and allow people to experience the data at different spatial and temporal scales. Small, distributed sensor devices capture climate and other environmental data, while others stream audio from high in the trees and underwater.

Beginning in 2010, a restoration project has been transforming 250 acres of a cranberry farm in southern Massachusetts into a protected wetland system. Living Observatory is an initiative for documenting and interpreting ecological change that will allow people, individually and collectively, to better understand relationships between ecological processes, human lifestyle choices, and climate change adaptation. As part of this initiative, we are developing sensor networks that document ecological processes and allow people to experience the data at different spatial and temporal scales. Low-power sensor nodes capture climate and other data at a high spatiotemporal resolution, while others stream audio. Sensors on trees measure transpiration and other cycles, while fiber-optic cables in streams capture high resolution temperature data. At the same time, we are developing tools that allow ecologists and park visitors to explore this data, both remotely and onsite. The remote interface allows for immersive 3D exploration of a virtual terrain. Visitors to the site will be able to access data from the network around them directly from wearable devices. Google Glass will be incorporated into the wearable infrastructure, along with ongoing work on augmented auditory display using bone conduction and virtual spatialization.

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