Ever found yourself wondering what bird you just heard on your morning stroll through the park? There’s an app for that — or at least there likely will be soon. Recently launched on Kickstarter, the Warblr app can identify bird species by listening to their chirps.
Similar to song-identifying apps like Shazam and SoundHound, Warblr uses your smartphone to record a nearby bird song and then analyze it in real time with sophisticated machine learning algorithms to determine the species of the performer.
That might sound fairly straightforward, but deciphering bird chirps is a bit more complicated than identifying a song. Unlike a song you hear on the radio, bird songs aren’t sung by just one artist. Tweets and chirps are sung with varying speeds and cadences, so even among birds of the exact same species, identifying a particular song can be tricky. Warblr’s algorithms have to account for all this — not to mention the fact that individual birds often have large repertoires of different songs and calls.
However, despite all the complex audio-processing wizardry that goes on behind the scenes, using the app appears to be just as simple as using Shazam. Just fire up the app, tap a button, and wait for Warblr to work its magic. After analyzing the recorded audio and determining who tweeted it, the app brings up relevant information about the bird (name, species, defining characteristics, and so on), so you can finally put an end to all those heated birdwatching arguments you have with your grandparents.
The app is still under development at this point, but Warblr’s creators have recently taken to Kickstarter to raise £50,000 for further development. The hope is to launch it sometime around spring 2015, when the birds start getting noisy in the mornings again. Initially it’ll work only for birds in the UK, but the creators also hope to launch a North American version shortly thereafter.