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StripeSpotter turns wild zebras into trackable barcodes

Christopher Trout, @Mr_Trout
April 11, 2011
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We've heard plenty of stories over the past few years about tagging animals with RFID chips, but we've never been particularly keen on the idea. Well, now a team of researchers has come up with a much less invasive way of tracking individual animals -- specifically zebras -- by essentially using their stripes as barcodes. StripeSpotter, as it's known, takes an isolated portion of a photograph of a zebra and slices it into a series of horizontal bands. Each pixel in the selection is then fully converted into black or white, and the bands are in turn encoded into StripeStrings, which eventually make up a StripeCode that resembles a barcode. All this information is stored in a database that allows researchers to directly identify particular animals without ever having to get too close. StripeCode may be a zebra-centric application for now, but its developers see it making a mark across the food chain with the inclusion of other distinctly patterned beasts, like tigers and giraffes. Animal tracking hobbyists can get their own free copy of the application by clicking on the source link below.

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