A group of university students proposes to create a geolocation system for the benefit of the scientific study of sloths. This is Sloth Finder, which would capture data on these animals through a drone with thermal sensors, which can take photos even above the treetops, with which statistics on the population density of the species would be generated and differentiate it from others.
María Alejandra Merino and Ricardo Cascante, students at the Technological Institute of Costa Rica (TEC), proposed the project in the Thinkathon Monge contest, which is part of the company’s Good Green Actions program. “This system would include an application where an interactive map with the locations of the species is displayed, and a space where citizens report incidents that have occurred to sloth bears”, explained the STEAM career students.
Through their proposal, the students won first place and received computer equipment worth US$ 3,000 in total, as well as seed capital of ₡ 1 million to carry out their project. The project, introduced by Henry and Daniel González from the National University (UNA), obtained second place. It consists of the development of an application for citizen use, which would include a section to record sightings, a search recommendation forum for these animals, and reports of accidents/risk areas for the species. They received 2-HONOR 50 smartphones.
The third winning proposal was that of Santiago Herra and Jeremy Gómez, which consisted of a monitoring system through proximity sensors, placed in trees. This should be linked to a database and an application for tourist use. These winners got 2 technology packages that include a gaming chair, headset, keyboard, mouse, and speaker. In addition, all the winners received a purchase order valued at ₡ 75,000 to redeem at Monge Ópticas.
The effort of conserving nature through the latest technology
Students from the University of Costa Rica (UCR), Technological Institute of Costa Rica (TEC), National University (UNA), and Hispano-American University (UH) participated in this Hackathon format. They all had 13 hours to create a proposal that would respond to the challenge of the lack of information and demographic studies of sloths in the country.
According to its organizers, this event seeks to provide technological, innovative, and creative solutions for the research and conservation of biodiversity in Costa Rica in the context of climate change.
“Multiple technological solutions arose from this edition that promotes scientific study for the conservation of such an emblematic species in our country as the sloth; since at Monge, we have faith in young talent and their ideas, we are sure that these proposals will evolve into high-impact projects applying technology and innovation for the well-being of the planet’s biodiversity”, said Carlos Fernández, Brand Manager of the company.
Regarding why the sloth was chosen, Monge indicated: “This species represents an important special connection in Costa Rican society since it is a national symbol. In addition, sloths are important components of biodiversity because they are an integral part of natural ecosystems; that is, they perform regulation, recycling, and seed dispersal functions”.