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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:

http://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.

 

http://www.jernindustri.dk/images/VisBillede.aspx?Avis=JM&Lopenr=104140036&Ref=V4&maxW=640&maxH=427

 

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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Making a Difference in Kenya

Posted by eek May 4, 2009

Morgan's Post on remote monitoring of the medical clinic construction in Malawi reminded me of another, very cool way LabVIEW users are making the world a better place.

 

This one does not need much explanation. Kudos to the students at Penn State putting together such a powerful video for a such a powerful solution.

 


 

For more information on networked health solutions in developing countries, visit mashavu.com.

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My background is in writing, not so much in engineering. Ok, not at all engineering. The closest I came to engineering before working at NI was when a friend of mine made a cheesecake from Cooking for Engineers. The cheesecake was one of the best I have ever had, but I couldn't bring myself to read the copious instruction manual recipe that divulges the secrets of recreating it.

 

However, over the past three years, I have grown a fondness for engineers. My co-blogger friend, Emilie, can easily put together a LEGO Mindstorms robot, or tell me how a clock works or what in the world this is all about. She also knows more acronyms than a government lobbyist in a controversial state. And that impresses me.

 

Anyhow, I sprend a lot of time reading stories accounts case studies about what engineers are doing with NI products. Some of them, though I know are crucial to the technological advancement of this great country, I find horridly boring. I think my ignorance puts up a barrier between me and said applications (see how I did not link to any applications? Because at least I am decent at communicating, I know that doing so would be career-limiting). No, really. There are so many applications that are so far over my head that I hand them to Emilie and tell her I am not sure about them. She reads them, explains how great they are, and then I am on my merry way. Ignorance deflected, and I then have a new appreciation for something I once thought boring.

 

However, there are some case studies that are initially touching.

 

Some applications that I just can't quit reading.

 

Like this one:

 

Engineers at a University in Scotland are working with Malawi Polytechnic school to create mobile health clinics, and they've created a facility where they can actually create these mobile clinics, as well as perform routine maintainence and make sure the clinics are using enercy as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.

 

At the remote health clinic manufacturing facility, mobile clinics or other mobile organizations can be manufactured, outfitted with appropriate interior equipment, and equipped with solar, wind, or microhydroelectric generating equipment. Currently, one remote health clinic facility is located in Makata, a small village in Malawi.


http://sine.ni.com/cms/images/casestudies/malawi.jpg

 

Engineering that results in deliciuos cheesecake, I get. Engineering that results in providing medical care in remote areas to those who wouldn't otherwise receive it, I also get.

 

You can read the full case study here: http://sine.ni.com/cs/app/doc/p/id/cs-11858