MotionLab.Berlin – Hardware Innovation Hub & Makerspace

How Chirp’s bioacoustic hardware project will change ecosystem monitoring


A lot has happened in the last few years. Progress is happening and many areas are rapidly driving innovation. But despite this, there are still many things in which too little has changed – especially when it comes to social responsibility, climate justice and environmental protection.

And that is precisely where we see our responsibility. We make things right and wake up industries. We are shaking up those who have been asleep for so long. And we do it, with the most talented students and the strongest partners we could find. We make up for what didn’t happen. We MakeUp Internet of Things!

Together with CODE University for Applied Sciences, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) and the IoT+ Network, we developed the MakeUp Internet of Things incubation program. Over a period of two years, more than 130 students will complete the program and be trained as experts in the field of Internet of Things (IoT). The goal is to educate within IoT and promote the realization of IoT projects by combining technical knowledge with software programming and the construction of physical products.


Today we find out in the report from Fabian de Moraes, Kinga Janossy, Leon Splitt, Marvin Müller and Darjusch Schrand and their project consultant Professor Florencia Noriega, what they’ve been working on.


Project description and team setup

Ecosystems monitoring is to biodiversity what demographic census are to cities. Without census data, governments wouldn’t know where to allocate money to develop healthy economies. Without biodiversity indicators, it is hard to develop effective conservation strategies. Acoustic monitoring is a non-invasive technique for assessing biodiversity through animal sounds. 

CHIRP aims to build a monitoring unit that specializes in recording and wirelessly sending bird sound data that then can be used for further research. This enables researchers, enthusiasts, and ecologists to gather information about the environment and execute important studies and projects. The monitoring unit is a compact and lightweight and weatherproof box containing a battery, microphone, microcontroller with Sim card and SD card slot, and can be plugged into a solar panel. This opens up the possibility to conduct long-term studies without the need for active maintenance. Our team consists of four Software engineers and one Product Management student. Our study focused heavily on IoT development & assembly, market research & customer discovery. Team members are Fabian de Moraes, Kinga Janossy, Leon Splitt, Marvin Müller and Darjusch Schrand. Our project consultant was Professor Florencia Noriega.


At what stage did you start and how did you proceed?

We built the team at the beginning of the semester and started by creating an example project, which we then molded to our own requirements. Some of us had experience with working with hardware, but this particular technical challenge was new to all of us. We proceeded by working on our MVP, which entailed basic recording and storing functionality.


What progress did you make?

From the start to the end of the semester, we were able to build a working prototype with limited functionality that we deployed in the field during a test period. Inside the custom-built weatherproof casing, we mounted an ESP32 that through an omnidirectional microphone recorded the sound of several birds in Görlitzer Park. We also got the opportunity to speak to different experts in ornithology, and project leaders in bioacoustics, which gave us more in-depth insights into the topic. Unfortunately, we were not able to install and connect our device to the solar panel. Overall we are pleased with the progress and learnings we have made during the semester, and especially enjoyed the field test and presenting opportunities that we got through the motion lab scholarship.


What is the status quo?

As for now, our prototype is capable of connecting to the internet and requesting the current time, and recording sound and sensor data periodically. It serves the recorded audio files via HTTP and publishes sensor data to a Mosquitto MQTT broker and displays it via a Node-RED dashboard. Furthermore, it has the ability to go to deep sleep while it’s not recording to save power. For the market research part, we identified our ideal target user segment and did an in-depth competitor analysis.

Next steps

Unfortunately, all team members have decided to move to new adventures the following semester.
For now, this project will be discontinued, but we would like to offer the CODE community to use our
hardware parts and support.

Whoop whoop! Newsletter

Our best projects & stories – straight to your mailbox