Sunday October 20, 2019

A New Method To Track Rats, Researchers Suggest

Researchers have found that rats can be baited to or repelled from locations using pheromones found in the scents of other rats

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A rat caught in a rat trap. Wikimedia Commons

Researchers have found that rats can be baited to or repelled from locations using pheromones found in the scents of other rats.

Rats cost the world’s economy more than $300 billion a year. In addition to causing fines and business closures, rats spread disease, start fires and disable motor vehicles.

For the study published in The Journal of Urban Ecology, over a one year period researchers trapped and implanted microchips in city rats in a waste recycling centre in Brooklyn, New York.

“If we can pinpoint the scents and contexts that are most useful, then we increase our chances of creating novel control tools, but further research is needed under a broad range of conditions,” said study researchers from Fordham University, Columbia University and Arrow Exterminators Inc.

To overcome issues in using GPS to track movement in dense urban environments, they utilised radio-frequency identification sensors.

Rats, Tracking, Research, Disease
Rats cost the world’s economy more than $300 billion a year. In addition to causing fines and business closures, rats spread disease, start fires and disable motor vehicles. Wikimedia Commons

Male and female scents were then placed on, or near, these sensors and replaced every two weeks.

To determine whether risk impacted the findings, the research team positioned these devices in sheltered, safe areas that rats were familiar with and also in more risky, open environments where rats were vulnerable to predation.

According to the study, rats reacted differently to male and female scents.

In general, when rats responded to sensors with male scents, risk was unimportant. Rats briefly visited male scents equally in exposed and sheltered areas, and then stayed away.

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Female scents, however, were visited significantly more often than male scents (0.2 visits/day compared to 5.02 visits/day).

This implies that attractants may be more useful near sheltered areas while deterrent scents may be more useful in exposed areas where animals are vulnerable to predators.

These findings address a knowledge gap about rat scent preference that could assist in urban wildlife management tools, such as the deployment of baits or immuno-contraceptives. (IANS)

Next Story

New Interface That Allows Phone to ‘Feel’ Sensations just as Human Skin

In the study, the researchers created a phone case, computer touch pad and smart watch to demonstrate how touch gestures on the Skin-On interface can convey expressive messages

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Human Skin
The "Skin-On" interface, mimics human skin in appearance but also in sensing resolution. Pixabay

Researchers have developed a new interface that allows phones, wearables or computers to “feel” sensations such as tickling, caressing, twisting and even pinching just as the human skin does.

The “Skin-On” interface, mimics human skin in appearance but also in sensing resolution.

In the study, the researchers created a phone case, computer touch pad and smart watch to demonstrate how touch gestures on the Skin-On interface can convey expressive messages for computer mediated communication with humans or virtual characters.

The researchers demonstrated that tickling the skin can generate a laughing emoji on a phone, while tapping it can create a surprised emoji.

“One of the main use of smartphones is mediated communication, using text, voice, video, or a combination,” said lead author of the study Marc Teyssier from Telecomm ParisTech in France.

Skin
The artificial Skin allows devices to ‘feel’ the user’s grasp — its pressure and location, and can detect interactions such as tickling, caressing, even twisting and pinching. Pixabay

“We implemented a messaging application where users can express rich tactile emotions on the artificial skin. The intensity of the touch controls the size of the emojis. A strong grip conveys anger while tickling the skin displays a laughing emoji and tapping creates a surprised emoji” Teyssier said.

The study scheduled to be presented at the 32nd ACM User Interface Software and Technology Symposium to be held in New Orleans in the US from October 20-23 takes touch technology to the next level.

The researchers adopted a bio-driven approach to developing the multi-layer, silicone membrane. This is made up of a surface textured layer, an electrode layer of conductive threads and a hypodermis layer.

Not only is the interface more natural than a rigid casing, it can also detect a plethora of gestures made by the end-users.

Skin
Touch gestures on the Human Skin-On interface can convey expressive messages for computer mediated communication with humans or virtual characters. Pixabay

As a result, the artificial skin allows devices to ‘feel’ the user’s grasp — its pressure and location, and can detect interactions such as tickling, caressing, even twisting and pinching.

“This is the first time we have the opportunity to add skin to our interactive devices. The idea is perhaps a bit surprising, but skin is an interface we are highly familiar with so why not use it and its richness with the devices we use every day?” said University of Bristol Professor Anne Roudaut who supervised the research.

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“Artificial skin has been widely studied in the field of robotics but with a focus on safety, sensing or cosmetic aims. This is the first research we are aware of that looks at exploiting realistic artificial skin as a new input method for augmenting devices,” Teyssier said. (IANS)