Electronic Design

Researchers Go Wi-Fi To Study Gentle Giants

The giant panda is in peril, and Wi-Fi technology is coming to the rescue. Intel Corp. recently deployed a campus-wide broadband and wireless communications network in China's Wolong Nature Reserve, home to nearly 300 of the world's 1500 remaining pandas. Previously, researchers within the 2000-km2 reserve relied on some cellular access as well as dial-up Internet connections in the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda's nursing area for communications. But the new 802.11b wireless local-area network covers the administrative offices, the Wolong Giant Panda Museum, and the research center, which incorporates the breeding center, playground, and hospital, in addition to the nursery.

Instead of notebooks and pencils, researchers now use notebook PCs equipped with Intel's Centrino technology to record data. This is especially useful in the field as researchers chronicle the pandas' daily activities and share data, images, and video with colleagues around the world. Veterinary staff in the administrative office can use the video system to remotely monitor the health and care of the reserve's 80 captive pandas, including the 30 cubs born over the last four years. In fact, one veterinarian used the system to observe feeding trends among the panda cubs and suggest changes that improved their chances of survival.

Intel also worked with the Globio educational foundation to create the Children's Learning Lab at the Wolong Giant Panda Museum. The museum is tied into the reserve's new wireless network. Intel additionally donated Centrino-equipped laptops that will be used by local teachers and students from Wolong's Sha Wan and Geng Da Central primary schools. Globio and Intel even created a sister learning lab at Woodstock Elementary School in Portland, Ore. The Woodstock and Sha Wan students will use the technology to interact with each other and learn more about their respective ecologies.

For details, go to www.intel.com.

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TAGS: Intel
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