A River warbler sings. Photo by Gallinago_media/Shutterstock
LONDON, Aug. 14 (UPI) -- There's still no technology to translate the garbled tweets of your friend Jimmy on Twitter, but a new app called Warblr can recognize the tweets coming out of the mouths of real-life birds.
The newly launched bird song-recognition app was created by two researchers at Queen Mary, University of London. Last year, the researchers began a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for their project.
Though the campaign was received favorably, the donations came up short of the target. Fortunately, coffers at QMUL's Innovation Fund decided to provide the rest of the necessary financing.
The app, now available for sale on iTunes, works like Shazam or other song-recognition apps -- but with bird calls. Warblr goes a step farther, combining song-recognition technology with bird mapping data from the British Trust for Ornithology, thereby narrowing down the birds one is most likely to encounter based on location.
The creators hope the technology can inspire young people's interest in the natural world. Data collected via the app's use will be made publicly available to researchers and conservationists.
"Here at Queen Mary University of London we've been at the forefront of developing this new technology for a while now, but as a scientist you don't always get the chance to place your work directly in the hands of the general public -- it's a real privilege," Dan Stowell, Warblr co-founder and researcher at QMUL's Center for Digital Music, explained in a press release.
"And the beauty of it is that the more people who use Warblr and submit recordings to our server, the more accurate we can train our technology to become," Stowell added. "In fact the benefits are wider than that -- our users are citizen scientists, collecting data that will be shared with researchers and conservation organizations worldwide."
Though available for download elsewhere, the app is currently geared toward the United Kingdom and its more than 400 bird species. App designers are currently working on versions for other parts of the world, and they say an Android version will be available "in the not too distant future."
"Warblr is the result of years of hard work, and we are so excited to finally be able to share it with our nation of bird-lovers!" said co-founder Florence Wilkinson. "Whilst we didn't make our target on Kickstarter, the community we built during the process have been incredible, forming a crack team of over 100 beta testers to help us refine the app, and even helping to write descriptions for the over 220 British bird species that Warblr can now recognize."