Duke University's Electrical and Computer Engineering Department joins Sony’s Sensing Solutions University Program

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Sony Developer World and Sony Semiconductor Solutions Corporation (SSS) start their collaboration with Duke University’s Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. Duke University is the third academic institution to join Sony’s Sensing Solutions University Program, which is designed to build partnerships with university research groups. The goals of the program, reflected within each created partnership, are to develop long-term collaborations with universities and encourage the exploration of innovative and sustainable use cases for the latest technologies of SSS, such as Spresense.

Spresense is used to measure biodiversity in the rainforest canopy

Sony’s compact sensor platform is going to be used in a collaboration with Duke University, where the research team aims to use drones and in-house designed devices, in order to identify species and measure biodiversity in the rainforest canopy. The drones are used to drop off devices equipped with Sony’s Spresense platforms on the canopy tree branches. The sensor platform will have an attached LiPo battery, WiFi interface, camera module, and I2S MEMS microphones recording at 192 kHz.

”For a drone to deliver a device that is a sound recorder and camera trap into the canopy, the device needs to be compact and powerful. We want ultrasound recording to identify bats, birds, frogs, and insects. We want a camera trap to capture high-value animals like monkeys, sloths, large birds, and cats. The Sony Spresense is unique since it provides both high-speed audio and video capture, and is designed to be low power and battery operated”, said Martin Brooke, Professor at the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department of Duke University and leader of the research team.

The team participates in the XPRIZE Rainforest Competition

Duke University has already enrolled a project team – the Blue Forest Devils – in the XPRIZE Rainforest competition. XPRIZE is a non-profit organization that creates prize competitions that focus on technologies and innovation, with the purpose of changing the world for the better. In this case, XPRIZE Rainforest is a five-year contest that aims to encourage and accelerate the innovation of technologies that are needed to assess biodiversity and increase understanding of the rainforest ecosystem. Since the semifinal of the competition will take place in two years, Duke’s University research team is preparing at the moment to become, at least, of the semifinalists.

In terms of the timeline of the project, the team already designed the device which includes Sony’s Spresense board, and the students are at the moment working on project reports. During the summer of 2022, the team will test the prepared hardware in a rainforest in Costa Rica, and later on, they will analyze the obtained results and present their findings.

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