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London Zoo streams live otter cam in TV white space broadband trial

London Zoo is currently live streaming footage of otters, meerkats and Galapagos tortoises as part of a wireless broadband trial. 

Streams of the animals will be avaialble 24 hours a day, seven days a week on the Zoo’s YouTube channel. 

Using gaps in the TV spectrum called TV white space, London Zoo is exploring how this technology could be used to track groups of animals in the wild. This could provide insights into their lives and to boost efforts to protect endangered species. 

Otterly Adorable: ZSL's trial is easily the cutest TV White Space test so far
Otterly Adorable: ZSL’s trial is easily the cutest TV White Space test so far

Radios and cameras have been installed in the animals’ enclosures and this content is streamed directly to the video service using Google’s spectrum database to ensure there’s no interference with existing channels. 

Whitespaces for Wildlife project co-ordinator Louise Hartley said: “Remote monitoring of wildlife is a vital conservation tool, from helping us to better understand species behaviour.

“The prototype systems at ZSL London Zoo are already demonstrating that they can transmit high definition video over long distances, confirming their invaluable potential to use wireless connectivity to transform the Zoological Society of London’s worldwide conservation work.” You can check out the live otter cam below. 

Although this is a rather unique (not to mention cute) way of trialling the technology, Ofcom expects that white space broadband will roll out commercially in 2015 to places where current fixed-line broadband services are either poor or non-existent.  

Right now, seven trials are taking place around the UK, testing out different applications of the technology, including the implementation of internet access in rural communities, WiFi services, wireless video streaming and new machine-to-machine networks. 

Ofcom said: “White space technology is one way of meeting the growing demand for data in the UK. Compared with other forms of wireless technologies, such as regular Bluetooth and WiFi, the radio waves used by TV white space devices can travel longer distances and more easily through walls.” 

In 2013, Internet of Things pioneers Neul demonstrated a white space service capable of delivering download speeds of 10-12Mbps to rural homes. It’s also hoped that white space technology could be used to help power ‘smart city’ applications, allowing for better management of public services. 

Ofcom had expected that commerical white space services would be live by now. Concerns from TV broadcasters, already worried about the impact of 4G mobile services, and extensive trials have seen the expected launch time fall back.