The iBat effect

13 Jul 2012


My Dad just sent me this link from the BBC:

Can smartphones help us understand more about bats?

As someone who’s built their own bat detector (I was inspired after taking a Scudamore’s Punting Bat Safari), my first reaction was one of deflation. Had someone released an app that could do the job? Although it was fun soldering the “digibat” together, I’m all for gadget consolidation, and would prefer it if my phone could perform yet one more function.

I’m not actually sure that smartphones have the capability to detect the ~40kHz frequencies that bats emit.

Anyway, the video features an app called “Spectrogram” which turns the frequency pattern into a scrolling, visual display.

Does this really help people identify bats, I wonder? I think my ears are a pretty good mechanism for distinguishing subtle variations in sounds… why translate it into the visual domain?

While I do get the impression that this is a case of “do something on an iPad and it’s automatically exciting”, there are undoubtedly interesting consequences from doing this, and anything that gets people engaging with the world in a new way is inherently good, I reckon.

Well done to all involved for making bats cooler than they already are, and thanks Dad for the link!

Tags: bat, ipad