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SoftBank, Japan tech firm develop sensor to send message when animal caught in trap

A sensor, above, and a trap, below, are seen on the premises of Shinshu University's Faculty of Agriculture in Minamiminowa, Nagano Prefecture, on Nov. 8, 2019. (Mainichi/ Kazunori Miyasaka)

TOKYO -- SoftBank Corp. and hunting device venture company "huntech" have jointly developed a sensor capable of sending a message when an animal is caught in a trap, using a narrowband internet of things (NB-IoT), officials at the companies said.

The two firms recently demonstrated the device called "birds and animals trap sensor" to the media at Shinshu University Faculty of Agriculture in the Nagano Prefecture village of Minamiminowa, central Japan. SoftBank and huntech plan to put the product on the market in March 2020 after conducting feasibility experiments at about 10 locations in mountainous areas in the city of Ina and surrounding areas.

The newly developed device consists of a magnetic sensor, a magnetic hook and a binding trap that are connected by rope. When an animal such as a wild boar or a deer steps on the trap and is caught, the sensor immediately alerts the owner of the trap by sending email to their mobile device.

The system developers say they can sell the product at a relatively low price because the device uses NB-IoT that consumes less electric power than 3G. They added that four AA batteries can likely operate the system for at least three months.

In feasibility experiments, the two companies will join hands with Shinshu University and other bodies in testing all the system's functions, including sending email as well as the lifespan of batteries.

Osamu Watanabe, 50, associate professor at the Faculty of Agriculture, said the new system will help save labor in going to sites where animal traps have been set up.

"As hunters are growing older, it's a hard task to make the rounds of sites for animal traps. It (the new device) is expected to reduce the burden on hunters and save labor. If communication can be carried out in mountainous area like the city of Ina, the system can likely be used in other areas," he said.

Huntech plans to sell the product for around 50,000 yen each.

(Japanese original by Kazunori Miyasaka, Suwa Local Bureau)

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