Smartphones In The Mountains Will Soon Be Ubiquitous

Smartphones in the mountains will soon be ubiquitous. Right now, wandering around Switzerland’s alpine meadows is very pleasant at this time of the year with the sun shining and the cowbells chiming in the distance. The good news is that musical ringtones will not be drowning out these traditional sounds. The sheep there also enjoy the sweet grass and the clear pure water running down from the melting glaciers.

However, the music in the mountains is no longer just from cowbells and tumbling streams. The howling of wolves is joining the chorus. Not a welcome sound if you’re a sheep. The BBC reports that the Bernese Oberland is having more frightened sheep than a few years ago in the shadow of the Matterhorn and the Eiger (1).

In some parts of Europe, the farmers have big dogs to defend their flocks, but this apparently is not a practical proposition here, mainly on the grounds of cost. Not to fear, a new solution is rushing to the rescue.

The sheep will be fitted with collars. Not for bell, though. They are for carrying each sheep’s personal smartphone. They won’t be making and receiving regular calls (hence the absence of ringtones). Instead they will use them for texting the shepherd in the event of a wolf emergency.

They don’t have thumbs, but that wasn’t an obstacle to Jean-Marc Landry from the group Kora. He set up heart rate monitors to trigger the “SAVE OUR SHEEP” text when the pulse rate hit a frightened by hungry wolf threshold.

A placid sheep enjoying the sunshine, just chilling out and chewing the cud, has a heart rate ~ 70bps, but with red slavering jaws coming ever closer however hard escape is attempted can drive it up to ~200bps, so there is plenty of scope to set a threshold which won’t entail too many sheep crying wolf.


Leave a Reply