Intel join scientific community’s quest to save bees from disappearing

Edison-powered devices will aid scientists.


By Raif Karerat

IntelU.S.-based technology titan Intel and Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) have announced a partnership that will see the institution use Intel’s Edison postage stamp-sized Breakout Board Kit computer — originally designed with wearable technology in mind — to help monitor bees.

The great hope is that the Edison-powered apparatuses will help provide an insight into colony collapse disorder, otherwise known as the mysterious phenomenon of disappearing bees.

The Sunnyvale chip giant said Monday that a kit powered by the company’s Edison chip will be distributed worldwide by Australia’s national science agency to research partners studying bee colony collapse.

“Bee colonies are collapsing around the world and we don’t know why,” said Paulo de Souza, an official with CSIRO. “Due to the urgent and global nature of this issue, we saw the need to develop a methodology that any scientist could easily deploy,” he continued during an announcement of the collaboration with Intel.

The Edison Breakout Board Kit used contains Intel’s Atom computer system on a chip originally designed for mobile devices. Placed within a beehive, it monitors bee movement by communicating with RFID chips attached to the bees — similar to how an e-tag works in a vehicle to register road tolls, according to CNet.

The kit will send data to CSIRO’s Data Access Portal, where researchers will be able to build 3D models to visualize how bees are moving around, reported the San Jose Mercury News. That should help pinpoint threats to the creatures, which are responsible for pollinating about a third of the world’s food crops.

The technology was originally deployed in Hobard, Tasmania, where more than 10,000 bees are flying around with sensors on their backs.

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