Welcome back, coders! How are you doing? Is this year’s Google Summer of Code as exciting for you, as it is for us? If not, we can help with that 😉 In today’s post we are going to describe another fascinating open source, and its GSoC projects! So get ready, because this one is different from all of the others that we have been writing about in our previous posts.
The sound of the ocean
Did you know that whales can sing? They are actually very vocal and perform a wide range of sounds, from high-pitched shrieks, to deep grunts and growls. Buzzing, creaking, whistling, trumpeting… you name it! They can do it all. Too bad you can’t just buy a ticket to a whale live concert, and listen to their songs…
Well, actually, you can.
And you don’t even have to pay.
Orcasound is an open-source project that brings humans closer to nature. It allows you to experience the sounds of the underwater kingdom from anywhere in the world, without even leaving your house.
Okay, it sounds great, but how does it actually work?
Orcasound uses hydrophones (underwater microphones) to register sounds made by animals, such as the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKWs). Hydrophones are placed in the areas inhabited by these magnificent creatures. You can listen to live transmissions anytime you want on Orcasound’s website (currently there are three different locations available).
This is a project that not only humans, but also AI keeps an eye on. It can detect some of the characteristic sounds made by orcas. As soon as it happens, it will inform people who signed up for notifications that something interesting is happening. Listeners can then quickly show up, just in time to make a great audience for an excellent whale live concert.
As a regular listener you can also help others stay informed. Should you hear anything interesting, you can always hit the right button and describe what you’re experiencing. Your input can help other people reach the website on time, and listen to whales’ songs with you.
To serve as a useful resource on the topic of whale sounds, the website offers a library of recordings that can be helpful to both researchers and community members who are willing to listen to live transmissions and want to understand what they are hearing. If you’re interested in learning more, start with this interactive picture that will teach you the typical sounds of the Salish Sea.
The Google Summer of Code goes underwater
Orcasound has been participating in the Google Summer of Code since 2020. This year they are working on exciting new GSoC projects that will help in the development of this interesting initiative.
The projects for this year’s edition include: improving real-time interpretation of underwater sounds; increasing access to NSF-funded audio data from hydrophones in killer whale habitat on the outer coast, opening the door to wintertime acoustic detections of endangered orcas; creating a suite of methods that make it easy for Orcasound community members to access, share, and play back archived audio, and more!
Check out the list of project ideas and their descriptions here.
For the past 2 years the GSoC contributors have been using their time, energy and skills to help Orcasound grow. You can read more about their achievements on Orcasound’s website.
It is exciting to see how many different projects are taking part in the Google Summer of Code, and how diverse they are. It just shows how technology can help in various aspects of life, and be useful not only to humans. Data gathered by Orcasound is improving our knowledge on the endangered species, and provides us with information on what we should protect them from. Thanks to such projects we can create better solutions to preserve whales’ natural habitats and remove disturbances that are threatening their wellbeing. It also is a great educational tool that helps people learn about other residents of our planet.
We wish all of the Orcasound creators and contributors good luck with their work, and success in their mission.