Twitchers get new digital aid

Shazam was a truly revolutionary service that all but ended that annoying “ear-worm” problem of not being able to identity a music track. Now, a new smartphone app aims to do the same for thousands of bird-watching fans in the UK.

An app for twitchers

Although it is not quite energetic enough to be called a sport, bird watching, which is popularly known as “twitching”, has a large numbers of fans around the world.

It is estimated that thousands of people in the UK enjoy this pastime, and now they’ll be able to identify a particular bird by catching a ten-second burst of its song on a smartphone.

The aptly-named Warblr app costs just £3.99 and has already caused quite a stir in normally placid twitcher circles.

Crowd-funded endeavour

Last October, Queen Mary University research fellow Dr Dan Stowell and his co-developer Florence Wilkinson started a crowd-funding campaign. The project was completed thanks to celeb support from Stephen Fry and a grant from the university’s innovation fund.

Warblr has the backing of the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO). It is through this connection

that the developers were able to compile an audio database of 220 different species.

Success

Although the basic technology is similar to that of Shazam and Chirp!, this app works on the probability of percentages.

The developers will be pleased if the app helps even more people become twitchers. “I’ve had somebody ask anxiously if this app means there will be lots of young people with smart phones trudging around the countryside,” Ms Wilkinson says. “Well, hopefully, yes.”


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