A solution for tracking badgers may also help find miners

Some badger researchers had a problem: how to track the animals travelling underground since conventional technology couldn’t locate them.

The solution that Andrew Markham and Niki Trigoni, from Oxford University’s Department of Computer Science, came up with not only helped solve the badger problem, but eventually led to a company the two founded when the they realized that their technique beats many of the conventional tracking tools currently on the market.

Back when the pair were trying to find badgers, the pair first decided to use low frequency field transmitters, since the electromagnetic waves can pass through rock and other solid materials.

“Very low frequency fields just pass through obstacles as if they aren’t there,” said Markham in an interview with Wired.

“You don’t need line of sight with a transmitter in order to work out where you are”.

And then there was another insight. Rather than using technology that works out the position based on triangulation where a number of different transmitters are required, the signal from just one low frequency field transmitters can allow the receiver to measure both the magnitude and direction of the signal. In short, enough information to determine location from just one transmission signal.

Even better, the technology can easily be added to smart phones since much of the technology already exists in these devices.

Markham and Trigoni are now trying to raise Can$1.9 million and build a company, OneTriax, based upon their discovery.

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