Eavesdropping on Elephants

June 10, 2009

Our Northern Europe Office sent over an article where NI was featured. The headline (translated) is something like “Joining a Listen When Elephants Talk.” I love animals (no doubt this will become more noticable as my posts continue), so natually, I was stoked.

Talking elephants, though?

This is all I could think of:

https://i2.wp.com/apps.music.wisc.edu/cdstore/images/407Babar.jpg

Remember that little French elephant?

Well, Denmark doesn’t have Babar after all these years, but they do have a new language laboratory in the Copenhagen Zoo, where they can listen and understand elephants communicating with each other.

NI and Brüel & Kjær Sound & Vibration (B & K) Copenhagen donated a system that can record, analyze and play back the sounds of elephants and other animals with some Brüel & Kjær hardware and LabVIEW.

Elephants make sounds to say things like “follow me” or “want to mate?” (clearly, animals are much more direct than we humans are). They can communicate with low-frequency vibrations because not only are their ears sensitive, but their feet are as well, feeling vibrations through the ground.

Here is where it gets weird:

So, the girl elephants don’t always want to communicate. Sometimes they play hard-to-get, or are just giving each other the cold shoulder. Sheesh girl elephants, I would never do that.

You know how the zookeepers get them to talk? My guess would be just to poke them with a stick, or offer them a glass of wine (that seems to always work with me). Nope. Guess again. Throw them some boy-elephant poo at them. That’s right. Read it again. They throw the boy-elephant poo at the girl elephants. Throw some crap at them and they will get to talking.I can’t imagine what those conversations are about.

Next steps for the researchers involve trying to understand communication between the mother and her baby during child birth.

**Animal friendliness note: The zoo is making sure not to cause any stress to the animals by monitoring their sound!

You can also read the full article. I hope you are from Denmark, because it is in Danish and I can’t figure out how to get Google Translator to translate it. I am sure you can.

 

https://i0.wp.com/www.jernindustri.dk/images/VisBillede.aspx

 

More about the application:

Brüel & Kjær developed a microphone that can capture low frequency sounds that elephants use to communicate with each other. Elephants essential communication sounds have frequencies that are typically between five and 20 Hz, and can only be captured by humans as vibrations.

With an analog-to-digital converter, sounds pass from the microphone to a PC and then with NI LabVIEW, sounds can be played and displayed graphically so that researchers can study patterns of animal sounds and analyze them.

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3 Responses to “Eavesdropping on Elephants”


  1. […] Sweet Apps Blog Just another WordPress.com weblog « Eavesdropping on Elephants […]


  2. […] was going to talk to you about using an Apple computer? You should know from my posts about bras, elephants, and cheesecake that I don’t actually know a lot about computers or […]


  3. […] those companies. Animage…like, animal? Yes. You are correct. Animals! We already know that I love animals, so I am really excited to share this with […]


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