Though adding "smart collars" to animals in the wild doesn't do anything for the animal, it helps us humans better understand their habits. Which hopefully means we end up helping the animals.
Traditional collars have used GPS before but these new ones, which are expected to be implemented in the next few years, use GPS and accelerometers to more accurately measure the animals' daily life (running, sleeping, jumping, eating, etc). Here's how Terrie Williams, a co-investigator on the project, explained it to the New York Times:
What you end up with is a diary for the animal, a 24-hour diary that says he spent this much time sleeping, and we know from the GPS where that was. Then he woke up and went for a walk over here. He caught something over here. He ate something and we know what it was because the signatures we get for a deer kill vs a rabbit kill are very different.
The researchers have established data points with captured mountain lions and plan to put out more of these smart collars in the near future. The goal of the smart collars is to eventually predict the behaviour of wild animals. Like getting inside their brains and motivations by studying their habits. Read more about the fascinating project over at the NY Times.
Image: Matthew Staver/New York Times