A new digital game lets anyone contribute to one of the greatest environmental quests of our time: saving wild tigers from extinction.
In Wildsense, players view images that are somehow related to tigers, then earn points (called “gems”) by answering a few quick questions. As players compete for the leaderboard, they’re also teaching the analytical software behind Wildsense how to reliably find the tiger in any image and discard everything else—such as photos of the Detroit Tigers, Tiger aircraft, or kitties with tiger stripes.
The goal is a system that can automatically analyze images of wildlife taken by camera traps, said codeveloper Aaron Mason, and separate the tigers from the birds, monkeys, and other animals that appear in them. This will help tiger conservationists collect, share, and use data more quickly.
“People in different places around the world are doing it in their own way, using conventional methods—camera trap footage, manually processed—as well as looking for tracks,” said Mason, a Ph.D. student in computer science at the University of Surrey. “It’s quite time-consuming, the way this is done now. When our system is set up and underway, hopefully we can see the changes every day, not every few years,” in tiger populations and locations worldwide.