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imec spins out 1g Bluetooth tag for wildlife monitoring

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty


Belgian research lab imec has spun out a company to develop ultralight tracker technology for wildlife that weighs less than a gram.

IoSA (Internet of Small Animals) is commercialising technology developed by engineers of IDlab, an imec research group at the University of Antwerp, and ecologists of EVECO research group at the university. The ultralight ultra-low power, highly accurate proximity tracker that enables monitoring the behaviour and movement of small wild animals such as birds, rodents, bats and even toads.

The tools to effectively monitor animal behaviour have been lacking, particularly for smaller wild animals. To meet this need, IoSa is developing a Bluetooth Low Energy monitoring tool weighing under 1g that can be used to gather new insights in wild animal behaviour and health, but also in early warning systems for livestock health.

The trackers are rechargeable, with the additional option for solar-charging on select bigger models to remove the need for charging altogether. These connect to a stationary battery-powered gateway that sends the signals to the cloud or a mobile phone.  

“We started with a miniaturized proximity logger, of merely 0.9 grams, as a contact tracer for smaller animals like birds and mice,” said Dr Luci Kirkpatrick, CEO of IoSA “Each logger emits Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) signals and registers the BLE signals and the signal strength of other loggers in the vicinity, as well as the signals of a stationary beacon in the monitoring environment.

“This approach allows researchers to map movements of, and interactions between the animals, and provides valuable data that was unattainable until now. This first logger is only the beginning,” she said.

“IoSA is an excellent example of creating value in a surprising area. This multidisciplinary cooperation between different research groups results in an interesting IoT-tool that supports the biological and biomedical research domain.  UAntwerp puts a lot of effort in connecting researchers in order to create more socio-economic value for a broader public,” says Silvia Lenaerts, Vice-rector Valorization and Development of UAntwerp.

A specialized charger that can charge up to 10 loggers simultaneously, while the stationary loggers and gateways can be recharged using a USB-C cable. The company is launching a trial kit at a small cost which will contain 4 tiny loggers, 2 stationary loggers and a gateway to test the whole system before going further.

www.imec-int.com; www.iosatracking.com


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