- Google’s latest moonshot is an ocean conservation project.
- Called “Tidal,” the project will involve monitoring fish behavior using underwater cameras and what it calls “machine perception tools,” which can detect and interpret fish behaviors invisible to the human eye.
- Tidal says its software can monitor the behavior and welfare thousands of thousands of individual fish over time, letting fish farmers manage their pens more effectively and efficiently.
- Though Google only announced Tidal in a blog post published Monday, the tech giant says it has spent the past three years talking with fish farmers to inform its fish-monitoring tech.
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Google’s latest moonshot is a little different.
Called “Tidal,” the moonshot will involve monitoring fish behavior using underwater cameras and what it calls “machine perception tools,” which can detect and interpret fish behaviors not visible to the human eye.
Google “moonshots” are ambitious, long-term, cutting-edge projects not necessarily (or primarily) motivated by profit.
Run by the enigmatic research and development firm, “X,” Tidal is aimed at safeguarding the oceans and making fish-farming more sustainable.
Though X only announced Tidal in a blog post published Monday, the tech giant says it has spent the past three years consulting fish farmers to inform its fish-monitoring technology.
X says Tidal’s initial focus will be on acquiring knowledge and understanding of fish behavior and welfare. The difference between Tidal and traditional attempts to acquire this knowledge is one of scale.
Where typical attempts at observing fish welfare involve taking relatively small numbers of fish from the oceans and manually examining them, Tidal’s tech can monitor thousands of thousands of individual fish over time – measuring traits like their eating habits and temperatures – without needing to remove them from their natural environment.
This information will then be fed back to fish farmers, giving them an improved ability to track the health of their fish and make smarter decisions about how to manage their pens. Supposedly, this will reduce both the costs of fish farming and the pollution caused by it.
X’s first project involved the development of Google’s self-driving car; a project which morphed into the fully-fledged tech firm known as Waymo.
Other projects it’s overseen include Project Glass, which spawned the controversial Google Glass AR glasses, and Makani, a project aimed at producing wind energy using kites that’s also evolved into a fully-fledged company called – you’ve guessed it – Makani.
How effective Tidal is at curbing irresponsible fishing remains to be seen, but what’s certain is that today’s oceans face unprecedented pressure.
According to research by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the plastic present in the world’s oceans will, by 2050, collectively weigh more than all the world’s fish combined.