Garden-centric machine learning firm Bird Buddy has announced the impending launch of a hummingbird feeder with integrated species recognition camera — showing off a functional prototype ahead of commercial availability.
"Hummingbirds are truly magical and increasingly becoming an endangered species that require a specific food source that is harder and harder for them to find," explains Kyle Buzzard, co-founder and chief hardware officer at Bird Buddy. "In order to create a product that both people and hummingbirds would want to use, we knew we had to develop a practical design that allowed for quick assembly, zero leaks, and easy cleaning."
The resulting hummingbird feeder, which the company claims will be produced using recyclable and sustainable materials when it comes to market, builds on the company's earlier less-specialized bird feeder design. At its heart is a smart camera system that alerts when a feathered visitor is spotted, captures "goofy, selfie-like" images, then uses a machine learning algorithm to identify the species from a database of 1,000 different birds.
Doing the same thing for hummingbirds, though, proved more of a challenge — thanks in no small part to a lack of hummingbird-specific datasets, prompting Bird Buddy to build its own. The result is a model capable of distinguishing between 350 different hummingbird species, captured on a camera capable of handling the creatures' notoriously swift movements.
"We are a crowd-funded company, and our community is a critical, real-time focus group of sorts that is helping us innovate every day," claims Franci Zidar, co-founder and chief executive, of Bird Buddy. "We started to receive requests for this type of bird feeder and it felt like the natural progression for our class-leading hardware and software products. It’s an exciting development for us as we celebrate our two-year anniversary."
The device is currently in the prototype stage, with a model demonstrated during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last week; thus far the company has not confirmed pricing or availability.