A few years ago, a hardware designer named Kyle Buzzard watched a viral video of a seagull who stole a GoPro and took pictures of himself looking into the camera.
“That started wonder and the questions, how can we do that and automate it?” recalls Buzzard, who incidentally has the perfect name for his avian interests.
Buzzard and his collaborators envisioned an AI-powered smart bird feeder that could identify and snap photos of 1,000 bird species that might visit your backyard.
But there were two immediate hurdles they had to overcome.
“First, to try and get high-quality images up close and personal of birds without disturbing them,” Buzzard explains. “Second, to easily identify the species. Both are very challenging to do and the bird has to stay in place long enough. How many times have you reached for your camera or bird book to make the feathered friend fly away?”
Buzzard’s design pedigree helped them achieve their goals.
bird friend launched its first Kickstarter in November 2020, raising $5 million, which put them in the top 1% of all Kickstarter campaigns according to the company and was the most funded campaign in Kickstarter’s gadget category.
The result was an ingenious bird feeder that’s sort of PokemonGo meets the Ring.
How it works: A feathered friend flies to the feeder and an AI-powered camera notifies you, identifies the species, takes photos and organizes them into a collection.
Related: People keep licking a rare toad in US national parks. The reason is a real journey.
Nature is calling
Buzzard hopes the device will help people reconnect with nature. “Unfortunately, many of us have developed a passive relationship with the natural world,” he says. With technology capturing most of our attention, we fail to look up and see the beauty around us. He hopes Bird Buddy can help solve that by putting the natural world in the palm of your hand.
“We wanted to give nature a chance in our digital lives,” says Buzzard.
For a fun look at the best photos taken by Bird Buddy users, check out the my bird friend portal.