Smart bear phone: Information on brown bears available on mobile phones in the future

July 2, 2013

Bears have captured our imagination throughout centuries. Ancient Finnish and Lappish myths and legends are probably one reason why these powerful animals are still held in great respect today and referred to as the King of the Forests. It is often believed that bears behave in an unpredictable way. However, as with all mammals, bears' behavior is governed by a combination of genetic programming and social and environmental factors. Once we understand bears' behavior and communication, it will not look haphazard for us anymore.

Brown are not only wandering by themselves around forests but they are also communicating with each other and – when needed – humans as well. The behavioral and communication scheme of the bear seems to be very goal-oriented and situation-specific. If we can recognise context-dependent communication schemes, we will be able to create an ABC of a bear communication. The ABC can be used, for example, by scientists, authorities, teachers, students, hikers and especially citizens living in bear-rich areas.

We can create a mobile bear communication ABC for . Hikers can browse a set of icons by their phone and get bear communication information with voice samples and guidelines about how the hiker should behave. The hiker can also send a picture of a bear taken with mobile phone to the service. The picture, the situation and the voice sample is then compared to image groups in the database. The most similar image will be selected and the image and a voice sample will be sent to the hiker with instructions on how the hiker should behave.

In the Department of Mathematical Information Technology at the University of Jyväskylä we study the context-sensitive communication of by means of three-phase SPA-architecture (Sensing, Processing, Actuating). In the sensing phase we collect voice samples of bears in different situations. In the processing phase we analyse the . The aim is to combine numerical features to certain bear voices. Finally, in the actuating phase we develop applications such as Bear ABC for Hikers and Citizens and bear knowledge for schools and universities.

Bear behavior and communication research is very different from bear population research. Information and communication technology (ICT) provides us new research tools and methods in addition to radio signal tracking and Global Positioning System (GPS). Close monitoring and the collecting of data give more precise information on bears' behavior. On the basis of that information we can create new knowledge on the biology and environmental state of bears. In addition to biological research, bears are constantly contributing to our environmental research as well – if only we could understand their signals. It is important to increase the competence of modern humans – especially that of environmental researchers and decisions makers – to interpret weak signals from the nature early enough for environmental protection initiatives and programs to avoid, for example, the current predicament of polar bears and pandas.

Ancient and aboriginal populations like Mayas and Indians, as well as nomads in many continents, have good skills for living in harmony with and as a part of the nature. It is important to understand how bears communicate in general because that will better enable us to interpret their weak signals when the living conditions in bears' natural environments change.

The bear research paper has just been presented in the 23th European-Japanese Conference on Information Modelling and Knowlegde Bases in Nara, Japan.

Explore further: Estonian brown bears head west

Related Stories

Estonian brown bears head west

November 23, 2012

Estonia's thriving brown bear population has spread nationwide after hunters eased up in their traditional territory, an expert in the Baltic state said Friday.

Chinese scientists call for ban on bear farming

April 26, 2012

( -- Three Chinese scientists, Xia Sheng, Haolin Zhang and Qiang Weng, all from Beijing Forest University, have published a correspondence paper in the science journal Nature, calling for a ban on the practice of ...

New study changes conditions for Spanish brown bears

March 18, 2008

Brown bears from the Iberian Peninsula are not as genetically different from other brown bears in Europe as was previously thought. An international study being published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy ...

Study shows black bears able to "count"

June 18, 2012

( -- Most people who have worked with black bears tend to believe the animals are pretty smart compared to say dogs or cats; others who have seen them in action, e.g. riding a unicycle in a circus, tend to agree. ...

Recommended for you

Provocative prions may protect yeast cells from stress

January 23, 2017

Prions have a notorious reputation. They cause neurodegenerative disease, namely mad cow/Creutzfeld-Jakob disease. And the way these protein particles propagate—getting other proteins to join the pile—can seem insidious.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.