Queen Mary Innovation

Warblr App can be used for identifying bird song

Queen Mary Innovation (QMI), has provided the initial funding for a new app called Warblr, which can be used to record bird song using a mobile phone, and then be used to identify the specific bird song.

28 November 2014

For immediate release
24 November 2014

QMI Funds New Warblr App
Warblr App can be used for identifying bird song

24 November 2014 … Queen Mary Innovation (QMI), has provided the initial funding for a new app called Warblr, which can be used to record bird song using a mobile phone, and then be used to identify the specific bird song.

Warblr’s co-founders CEO Florence Wilkinson, and Technical Director Dan Stowell have created a prototype for iPhone with a small grant from Queen Mary University of London to prove their concept, and hope to raise a further £50,000 through the popular crowdfunding website Kickstarter, which will enable them to launch in full in the spring.

Warblr has the potential to transform how the UK’s five million birdwatchers enjoy their hobby and inspire the next generation of wildlife lovers. There are also plans to launch a North American version of the app, where reportedly over one fifth of the population self-identify as birdwatchers.

Adam Daykin, Head of Technology Transfer, Technology and Engineering at QMI said: This is an excellent idea for an app. With so many of the country self-confessed birdwatchers, this app has a significant potential market. The innovative technology coupled with a strong management team, make this an excellent investment for QMI.

Technical Director of Warblr, Dan Stowell, said: This is very new technology, using some of the latest developments in machine learning capabilities. A music recording is actually a rather simpler challenge, because every time you play it back it is exactly the same pattern of sounds repeated. But even the simplest bird call sounds subtly different every time. Our machine learning technology has to work with individual birds within different species, which often have a huge repertoire of songs and calls, with some species continuing to learn different songs throughout their life. Migratory birds have even been known to return from their winter haunts with new sounds picked up from overseas.

Warblr CEO Florence Wilkinson, added: With an ever-growing urban population, the gap between people’s day-to-day lives and our natural world is widening. We live in a society where we are surrounded by distractions, and nature is becoming further removed from many people’s frame of reference. Yet this is at a time when our flora and fauna is in the greatest need of protection. We are losing our biodiversity at between 1000 and 10,000 times the natural extinction rate. We plan to use Warblr to bring people closer to nature through technology. We want to get people outdoors, learning about the wildlife on their doorsteps; because we believe that this will make them want to protect it for future generations. We hope that people will share our vision and support our Kickstarter campaign. In the longer term we also plan to use Warblr as a citizen science project; in-the-app geo-tracking will allow mapping of different species as and when they are identified. This data will be made publically available, allowing zoologists and ecologists to monitor species growth and decline, patterns of migration, and ultimately to aid conservation.

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For further information, contact:
Tony Stephenson
Director, Exitus Communciations
+44 (0)7899 796655
tony@exituscommunciations.co.uk

Notes to editors:

About QMI:
Queen Mary Innovation Ltd (QMI) is Queen Mary University of London’s (QML) wholly-owned technology transfer company and responsible for the commercialisation and management of the University’s intellectual property and portfolio of spinout companies.

QMI protects and exploits QML’s research-derived intellectual property and helps to maximise the economic and societal impact of that research. QMI’s Technology Transfer services include:
• Building a strong pipeline of technology by identifying and protecting early-stage new technology innovations
• Securing proof of concept/translational research funding to develop new QM technologies
• The exploitation of research-derived technologies through licensing and new spinout creation