Become a bat detective with this plug-in device for your smartphone
We've written about quite a few bird watching apps that can help you identify the birds around you when you're in your backyard or on your favorite trail. That's because bird watching is a hobby that humans have participated in for centuries. It's something you can do during the day where you can see the birds in the trees and bird songs are easily heard by the human ear, but what if your passion is bats?
Bat watching is a bit more difficult because they're nocturnal animals so they're not always visible in the night sky and the sounds they make while echolocating are ultrasonic, which means they're above the frequency of human hearing. So, spotting bats and identifying the ones in your neighborhood can be very difficult.
Wildlife Acoustics, a company that has made acoustic devices and apps for identifying birds and marine life, has branched out into bat detection as well with its new Echo Meter Touch 2. The small device that could fit into the palm of your hand, plugs into the Lightning port of an iPhone or iPad and pairs with the Echo Meter app to detect, record and identify bat sounds.
The module is available in two versions, a standard and pro model, so that the technology can be used by both citizen scientists and the professional ones.
When a user is outside at night, the device picks up the inaudible sounds of bats flying overhead. The app displays the audio as a spectrogram and records the sounds. The app then suggests the two most likely species to which the sounds belong.
The user can then save the recording and identification, tagged with the GPS location of where it was recorded, which is then plotted in Google Maps. For hobbyists and researchers alike, this can give a greater understanding of which bats frequent which areas and all of that data is shareable through the app so that all bat enthusiasts can benefit from that information.
The Echo Meter Touch 2 will be available to buy in June with the standard version costing $179 and the pro costing $349. The companion app is free to download through the App Store.