Internet of Things designers have been revolutionizing analog devices for years, making the world a more connected, more efficient place. Now, physical and digital designers have moved on from connecting just machines to the Internet.
British nonprofit conservation organization Protect has come up with a creative way to combat rhino poachers — connect the beasts to the Internet of Things.
Protect has equipped the rhino with a horn-embedded camera, a GPS transmitter around its neck, and a heart-rate monitor. Protect calls the device the Real-time Anti-Poaching Intelligence Device, or RAPID for short.
If the heart-rate of a rhino wearing the technology either drops or surges, the camera actives, allowing a control center to see what exactly is happening where the rhino is. If a team at the helm of the control center suspects poachers are the cause of the rhino’s heart-rate activity, they can dispatch anti-poaching patrols to the rhino’s location, which is given via the GPS tracker.
Although it is sad that the camera is mounted by boring a hole into the rhino’s horn, it doesn’t hurt, and is actually a creative way to discourage poachers. Since there’s a hole in the horn, it’s less valuable, which deters poachers.
The current wireless system being used have been designed to minimize the drain on the RAPID’s battery, so that authorities won’t have to worry about installing new power supplies quite so frequently. As it is now, only a few new power supplies will need to be installed over the course of a rhino’s life.
What’s even cooler about the power supply in particular is that the creative team behind RAPID is already working on a way to improve it. They want to find a way to use the animal’s movements to generate electricity, which can thusly recharge the power supply, removing a need to replace the RAPID’s batteries.
Currently, the RAPID is being used in South Africa, but the team hopes that it will soon be used all over the world.