Thanks to a new iPhone app, being your very own batman has never been easier. The iBat is an app developed by the Zoological Society of London in conjunction with the Bat Conservation Trust and several other individuals and organizations in both the United States and England and does just what its name suggests: seeks out the location of bats.
Often almost impossible to detect with just the naked eye alone, bats communicate with each other through ultrasonic calls. However, the human ear cannot hear these ultrasonic calls, and since bats often are most active at night, they also cannot see them flying through the air. While many people find the thought of bats flying around in the air above them to be disturbing, there are still many others who realize the ecological importance of bats. In fact, contrary to popular belief, most bats actually do not spend their time seeking out humans and sucking their blood. In reality, bats actually play a vital role in maintaining a healthy environment, as they act as both consumers of various insects and pollinators of many plant species. Because of the importance of these roles, bats actually make up a crucial part of their ecosystems.
However, despite the importance of the roles they play and despite their existence in almost every continent of the world (besides Antarctica), scientists know relatively little information about bats. This is where iBat enters the scene. iBat is an application that works in tandem with an externally attached microphone (available separately from the app) to detect and record the echolocation pulses bats utilize to find their prey.
The recordings are then uploaded to a central database for the monitoring of bats in various regions of the world. Before iBat, volunteer bat monitors had to lug around at least three different pieces of equipment to their monitoring sites; because of iBat (and the microphone), all of these clumsy pieces of equipment can be replaced with one convenient app. Developers are hoping that eventually all smart phones will be constructed with their own internal microphones that can be used instead of the external microphones. Through the information collected from iBat, bat researchers are hoping to learn more about bat populations and their seasonal migration patterns.
Overall, the iBats app is perfect for anyone who either loves or hates bats; for those who love them, they can now determine just where they can be found, and for those who hate them, they can now avoid them more easily.
iBats iPhone app requires iOS 3.0 or later and is compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.