'Shazam for birdsong' app, Chirpomatic, uses the latest machine learning techniques to automatically identify birds

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The new Chirpomatic app from iSpiny is a breakthrough in automatic bird identification and adds a whole new dimension to the outdoors.

Chirpomatic results screen

Chirpomatic shows the top birdsong matches so the user can listen and compare

Recognising which bird is singing is like using speech recognition to pick out voices in a crowd.

Chirpomatic is a new app that automatically identifies birds by their song, a Shazam-style app for birdsong. It is by far the most advanced automatic birdsong identifier ever created and enables the user to use their iPhone or iPad to record a bird, get the most likely matches, and compare their recording with the results.

Chirpomatic is designed to be as simple and easy to use as possible. On hearing a bird sing, the user quickly opens the app and taps the record button. The app records for up to 10 seconds, then analyses the sound and shows the top matches, along with photos of the birds, and hints and tips about the sound. The app is self-contained and works without a network connection, so it can be used anywhere.

The app has been created by iSpiny, specialists in nature apps and developers of the very popular Chirp! birdsong apps. Initially for iPhones and iPads at £1.49, an Android version will follow.

Chirpomatic has been over a year in development and employs the most up-to-date, cutting-edge advances in machine learning. Dr Hilary Lind from iSpiny explains the challenges: “Developing an effective automatic identifier for bird sounds is not easy. Birds have a very varied repertoire of songs and calls and recognising which bird is singing is like using speech recognition to pick out voices in a crowd. On top of that, we knew that the app had to be self-contained, so squeezing all the technology into an app was another huge hurdle that we had to overcome”.

This initial release is just the beginning for Chirpomatic. The first version covers north-west Europe, focusing on birds of parks, gardens and woodland. The range will quickly expand with regular updates. Versions for the United States and Canada are in preparation and will follow soon.

Chirpomatic is a fun way to connect with the natural world, whether out on a country walk or in the back garden and adds a whole new dimension to the outdoors. However, as well as engaging people of all ages with nature, the app has a more serious side. Recordings can be uploaded and will be available to zoologists, ecologists and conservationists monitoring changes in the numbers and distribution of species.

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Hilary Lind
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