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Explore nature from home with My Naturewatch

As spring gets fully underway – and with perhaps more time on our hands – many of us are rediscovering the natural world, whether that be in gardens or courtyards, balconies, or even in window-boxes as a source of inspiration, relaxation, wonder and distraction.

Now is the perfect time to get your hands on a My Naturewatch device, and truly see what critters are up to. My Naturewatch is a collaborative design research project led by the Interaction Research Studio at Goldsmiths, University of London, in collaboration with Design Products researchers at the RCA, and is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

The aim of the project is to design DIY devices that support new ways to engage with nature and technology. So far, devices they have developed include a build-it-yourself camera trap and an RFID reading “bird feeder”, that will come online later in the year. Instructions for how to make the devices  are open source,  they are inexpensive, and easy for a wide range of users and makers to build and modify.

These devices have two functions:

  1. To collect content about UK wildlife.

  2. To build new relationships and engagement between people, nature and technology. 

The devices allow experts, community groups and the wider public to capture information about wildlife in ways that are engaging and relevant to scientific and social concerns.

The My Naturewatch project is successfully moving digital making from a specialist ‘introvert’ activity to a mainstream audience. Through the projects’ endeavours a wide variety of younger and older participants – from 6 to 80 years old – are engaging with the latest technologies and with the changing environment around them.

My Naturewatch, Wakehurst workshop
My Naturewatch, Wakehurst workshop

The work builds on previous RCA research in maker culture, makerspaces and citizen science. The RCA principal investigator Dr Rob Phillips previously created the Bee Lab which combined technology with open design to enhance the practice of beekeeping. He made it easier for beekeepers to care for their own bees while also pooling their data on a nationwide basis: personal benefit combined with collective good. 

Find out how you can build your own camera

Learn more about Dr Rob Phillips by watching the film below: