Microsoft Research Releases Zootracer, Allows You To Track Animals From Videos

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Microsoft Research today released a new tool called ZooTracer, it is a desktop tool that can be used to trace animal movement by using consumer video equipment. ZooTracer is a collaboration work between  Computational Ecology and Environmental Sciences (CEES) group at Microsoft Research Cambridge, and the Computer Vision group, also from Microsoft Research Cambridge. There are some existing animal tracking software, but the ZooTracer offers distinct benefits such as easy usability, it can take video from anywhere(consumer videos from mobile devices too) and the user can quickly modify the results—helping the software learn how to track any object.

Why should we track animals using this tool?

“For example, bee populations are in drastic decline. What plants do they pollinate—and why? That is a question pretty relevant to the production of food for human consumption, but actually watching bees fly around and trying to track their plant preferences and the flight paths they take is a pretty difficult task. ZooTracer allows scientists to collect these very easily.”

About this Research from Microsoft,

This research from the Microsoft Research Computational Ecology and Environmental Sciences group aims to dramatically expand the amount and kind of data we can gather from the natural world. Zootracer uses vision and machine learning to track arbitrary objects from video. Designed to assist environmental scientists, Zootracer, a tool for general use, is complemented by Mataki, an unprecedentedly cheap, light (seven grams), and reprogrammable GPS tracking and sensing device. Uniquely, Mataki has peer-to-peer data sharing and, hence, data retrieval that can be achieved on entire collections of device-monitored animals. The research also uses an unmanned aerial drone with an onboard camera to follow coordinates broadcast by a Mataki device attached to an animal.

Read more about this work here.

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