Nuno Nunes, one of the CMU Portugal National Co-directors, President of Interactive Technologies Institute – ITI and Professor at Instituto Superior Técnico was interviewed by 90 Segundos de Ciência about his work in the field of Ecocentric design. This project is developing sensors that make possible to capture the sound of whales in high seas and replicate it on mobile devices. This technology could one day be used to observe whales from land.
The CMU Portugal Co-director hopes to develop an immersive ecological experience that keeps whale watching boats at a distance, to not disturb the animals. “My research focuses on what I now refer to as Ecocentric design, based on the idea that computer technologies have evolved to allow people to have a greater ecological and global awareness of their actions”, he says.
In concrete terms, the team wants to use IoT technology in small devices that allow to capture and observe phenomena that are often not visible. Professor Nunes is currently developing a project with whales at the archipelago of Madeira. In this project, sensors are used to capture the animal sounds under water through hydrophones.
The idea is to develop an immersive interface that allows people on whale watching boats to increase their experience through their mobile devices, listening to the sound of animals and accompanied, in some cases, with images of what’s happening under water.
“This is an example of a technological intervention that allows people to be more aware of the environment when they are in leisure activities, as is the case with whales and cetacean watching”, he reinforces.
With this technology, it will be possible to observe animals from a longer distance, protecting them from the stress caused by the boats used in this activity.
Several field studies have already been carried out in Madeira with the sensors located on the vessel. Soon, Nuno Nunes hopes to be able to place sensors on the animals themselves to increase the impact and scope of this intervention.
That way, it would be possible to observe whales and cetaceans from land, thus increasing the safety distance between man and the marine environment that this technology aims to protect.