Disney technology to monitor giraffes at night
Saturday 21 October, 2017

Disney technology to monitor giraffes at night

Published On: Thu, Jan 8th, 2015 | Wildlife | By BioNews

Researchers from Disney Research Lab, Pittsburgh, have developed a video technique for automatically detecting unusual behaviour of giraffes at night.

This will provide naturalists with an improved tool for monitoring the health and safety of the animals in the wild and under human care.

Giraffes can be particularly difficult to detect because their heads and necks can be configured in a wide variety of poses and since they are so often among trees and with other giraffes, parts of their bodies are often blocked from view.

“Direct observation of animals has provided scientists with many valuable insights, but this approach is rarely sustainable for long periods of time,” said Peter Carr, research engineer at Disney Research.

Thermal Imaging Giraffe

Image Credit: Disney Research

“Automated data collection and analysis promises to provide a more comprehensive understanding of animal behaviour and video cameras are often the most feasible method to perform this monitoring,” he added.

Carr and his team invented a method for automatically reviewing the videos of night-time giraffe behaviour captured by infrared thermal cameras and creating a summary that highlights only the behaviours that are unusual.

The solution that Carr and his team found was to create separate detectors for the giraffe’s head and the giraffe’s body.

They then developed a method – a “neck filter” – for determining which heads are likely connected with which bodies.

The team trained their system to detect giraffes in typical poses. But animal experts can learn the most by studying atypical behaviours.

The key, Gan explained, was to keep track of when the head detector would fail.

If the detector stopped detecting the head, they would assume that the giraffe was exhibiting unusual behaviour.

Of course, the same thing would occur if the giraffe entered or exited the scene or was temporarily occluded by a tree or another animal.

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