Bath firm finds inspiration in endangered parrot’s tale to develop pioneering wildlife locating tech

January 25, 2024

A large, camouflaged parrot living under threat of extinction in New Zealand has inspired a Bath firm to develop game-changing technology that tracks and monitors animals in the wild.

The team at technology innovation consultancy Icoteq drew inspiration from the story of the kakapo and efforts to conserve it as they worked on the TagRanger system, pictured below, which is aimed at research, conservation and environmental professionals.

Icoteq, which previously developed a new generation of satellite tracking equipment aimed at sea turtles and a plastic pollution tracker for a National Geographic-backed expedition, says TagRanger directs users to the exact location of an animal by using innovative GPS-beating ranging technology.

It also works with other targets, including waste products and equipment, in real time.

The system represented “an exciting advance” on existing tracking technologies which relied solely on GPS and guide users to the general, last-recorded location, says Icoteq.

This time-delay can be critical to success, particularly when dealing with challenging environments and small or fast-moving animals.

Icoteq managing director Craig Rackstraw, pictured, who founded the business in 2013, said TagRanger had been brought to market after several years in development. 

“It has been a real labour of love for the team, who are passionate about innovating new technologies to support conservation and protect our natural world,” he added.

“The kakapo species, which inspired us, is unique to New Zealand. They are notoriously hard to find, being well camouflaged until you are right next to them.

“TagRanger is a solution to exactly this type of problem where GPS can get you close, but TagRanger takes you right there.

“We are fortunate to have worked with clients such as National Geographic, Zoological Society of London, WWF and [UK conservation technology research and development organisation] Arribada Initiative on a wide range of projects, from tracking plastic waste in the Ganges to green turtles in Cyprus. 

“These experiences have helped us steer the TagRanger product in a direction that creates so many possibilities through the software-defined architecture and extensive configurations that can be applied to a variety of applications.”

He said TagRanger could be a game-changer for anyone using or looking for affordable tracking solutions that could work entirely offline with no network infrastructure or subscription costs.


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