A few years ago, a hardware designer named Kyle Buzzard watched a viral video of a seagull that had stolen a GoPro and taken photos of itself 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 associates envisioned an AI-powered smart bird feeder that could identify and snap photos of 1000 species of birds that might visit your backyard.
But there were two immediate hurdles they had to overcome.
“First, to try and get up close and personal high-quality images of birds without disturbing them,” explains Buzzard. “Second, to be able to recognize the species easily. Both are very challenging to do and have the bird remain in place long enough. How many times have you reached for your camera or bird book only for the feathered friend to have flown off?”
Buzzard’s design pedigree helped them accomplish their goals.
Bird Buddy launched its first Kickstarter in November 2020, raising $5 million, which according to the company, put them in the top 1% of all Kickstarter campaigns and was the most-funded campaign in Kickstarter’s gadget category.
The result was an ingenious bird feeder that is 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 U.S. National Parks. The Reason Is a Real Trip.
Buzzard hopes the device helps people connect back to 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 surrounding us. He hopes Bird Buddy can help solve that by putting the natural world in the palm of your hands.
“We wanted to allow nature to have its chance in our digital lives,” Buzzard says.
For a fun look at the best photos captured by Bird Buddy users, check out the my bird buddy portal.