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Advanced Imaging Magazine

Updated: January 12th, 2011 09:49 AM CDT

Hudson Bay Project Keeps Track of Polar Bears

polar bears
A network of remote cameras in subzero temperatures track the movement and behavior of polar bears on the shores of Hudson Bay in Canada.
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A digital system featuring RealVNC's (Cambridge, United Kingdom) Virtual Network Computing (VNC) technology is being used to control and maintain a network of remote cameras in subzero temperatures to track the movement and behavior of polar bears. The digital system on the shores of Hudson Bay in Canada was set up by SeeMore Wildlife Systems, which specializes in remote wildlife monitoring solutions. It is designed to help Polar Bears International researchers from the University of Florida film the dwindling number of polar bears as the animals prepared to head off to the Arctic for the winter. Polar Bears International is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the worldwide conservation of the polar bear.

The project comprised an IP-based network system of digital microwave links to transmit images across the tundra to the remote town of Churchill, which was in turn connected via the Internet to the control center in Alaska. The work also involved a hi-tech Tundra Buggy™ that fed live Polar Bear Cam streaming video through a 45MB wireless link to the town of Churchill and then, again via the Internet, to the National Geographic website.

"As the cameras were unmanned and powered by methanol fuel cells, it would have been virtually impossible to keep the system running without using VNC," said wildlife filmmaker Daniel Zatz of SeeMore Wildlife Systems. "VNC provided full control and monitoring of the camera network and a remote PC server in Churchill from the relative warmth and luxury of project HQ in Alaska."

The RealVNC solution works with virtually any platform or operating system across any network, using just a simple downloadable interface or through a browser. This means that Zatz and his team could log in, manage the network and download images directly from a PC, Mac or even a handheld device.

VNC can be up and running in seconds, takes up just a few megabytes of disk and RAM and supports more operating systems than any other remote access system, including Windows 95, 98, 2K, ME, NT4, XP, Vista, Mac OSX, Linux, Solaris, HPUX, Java and WinCE. The VNC software also automatically configures itself to provide best performance for LAN, WAN, Cable/ADSL or dialup connection speeds.

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