Stockholm is growing like never before, but as the city grows and we get more neighbours it affects some of our smaller residents.
More people in the city means that more trees are removed and the natural habitats for birds disappear and because of this we wanted to give them a voice of their own. So, say hello to our custom built nesting houses packed with the latest technology.
Thanks to a handful of sensors and cameras you are able to follow the tweeting (and hopefully chirping) birds in their new homes. That's right, the sensors monitor and log all activity within the nests and accompanied by GIF-animations and photos (yep, showing the birds in the nests) these small status reports from the wilderness are published live on Twitter.
How do you really go about building nesting houses stuffed with technology gadgets without frightening the potential tenants? You have long (and deep) conversations with an ornithologist and then you go into your workshop (or conference room), dress up in your finest blue collar outfit and get your power-tools on.
Want us to get into details? Scroll away!
Our two nesting boxes are now out in the wild at Södermalm and Värmdö — giving you the ins and outs of the birds' lives 24/7.
Blue collar labour
First we chopped the wood and built the actual boxes/nests — with double backpieces and bottoms for wiring and gadgets.
Moving on we created water-tight and sealed plexiglas boxes (a lot of time was spent making sure all electronics would be safe from water) to hold all micro-controllers (going with Arduino once again), the computer (Raspberry Pi is our weapon of choice) and electronics. The wooden-boxes was fitted (both on the inside and the outside) with temperature, distance and motion sensors to be able to keep track of the bird(s). Are there any birds at home? Is a bird entering or leaving the nest? How many times have the birds been flying in and out? And when? And how does that co-relate to temperature and weather? The sensors know it all.
Next up was eyesight. We researched and tried a handful of cameras but it turned out to be quite a give-and-take between quality, night-vision, shutter-speed (birds are quick!) and power-consumption. The camera was encapsulated into a plexiglas box and mounted on an arm outside the nest — to be able to record a GIF-animation (♥) of the birds flying in and out.
Having all this up and running we started thinking about how to get a good internet- and power-connection in the middle of the forest. It's a quite long story (and involves rebuilding a 4G-modem as well as old ladies from a working dog club) so we'll save this one for a coffee-session.
With all the mechanics in place and a studio filled with sawdusts we set out to create the actual application to control it all.
By utilizing NodeJS we created an application that interacted with the Arduino (and all sensors and cameras) as well as compressed and put together GIF-animations and last but not least pushed status messages to Twitter — allowing you to follow the life of the birds in realtime.
This is the type of project we absolutely love because during development time and time again it seems somewhat impossible to pull off. But as they say, impossible is nothing. Uh, it just requires a little bit more time.
And remember — if you build your own nesting house you'll help our wild neighbours find a home. It's a simple yet important way of helping nature on its way.
With Pool, 2015