Researchers Developed Smart Skin for Monitoring Aquatic Animals
Novel smart patch called as ‘Marine Skin’ can be potentially used to examine behavior of marine animals reveling more information regarding their habitat
Researchers from California Institute of Technology used the novel system to electronically tag animals with the help of silicone elastomers that can withstand twisting, shearing and stretching, when exposed to high pressures in deep waters. The system aims to monitor and record various environmental parameters, which are vital for studying marine ecosystems, as conventional systems for tracking animals in their ecosystem is bulky and uncomfortable for animals to wear.
In the current prototype, the location data is supplemented by recordings of water temperature and salinity providing information regarding ocean chemistry to be correlated with the heath and activity of even small animals while they are in deep waters. The data is retrieved via wireless connection after tag removal. “The integrated flexible electronics can track an animal’s movement and diving behavior and the health of the surrounding marine environment in real time,” said Joanna Nassar, Ph.D. student at California Institute of Technology. “Using simple design tricks and soft materials, we were able to beat the current standard systems in terms of noninvasiveness, weight, operational lifetime and speed of operation,” said Nassar.
Furthermore, researchers are working on developing remote data retrieval procedures by overcoming challenges faced by transmitting signals through water by integration of additional sensing features such as sensing the physiological state of the tagged animals. Marine Skin is tested and demonstrated on swimming crab, Portunus pelagicus and team is working on move on to dolphins and whale sharks. Their long-term aim is to achieve reliable performance when Marine Skin is attached for up to a year on individual animals of diverse types.
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