Study level

  • Vacation research experience scheme


Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.

Research centre


Dr Kellie Vella
Research Fellow
Division / Faculty
Faculty of Science


We’re interested in exploring how to make affordable Internet of Things devices that enable learning about nature through sound. This project aims to make an open-source DIY kit of a technology that enables ambient listening and learning about vocal species (e.g. bird or frog calls) in the home, as well as the sharing of nature data.

We can supply prototypes and user requirements. We require someone with experience or a strong interest in designing for the Internet of Things to consider how to design to these requirements for DIY application. Additional challenges include the provision and sharing of acoustic nature data, possible integration with existing nature data aggregators (e.g. can data uploaded to the system be shared for citizen science?), and low levels of technical expertise in the maker.

Research activities

Research activities include:

  • exploration of a range of computing technology to identify the strengths and limitations of each approach and the impacts on the design
  • review of current nature data aggregators to learn of possible integrations
    • Atlas of Living Austalia
    • Australian Acoustic Observatory
    • Xeno Canto
    • YouTube
    • Facebook groups
    • iNaturalist
  • prototyping an affordable device and IoT system that meets user requirements
  • testing maker instructions with at least 5 participants who have limited technical experience
  • regular project updates with supervisor.


Expected outcomes include:

  • a prototype that meets all the essential user requirements (or a strong argument for why some essential user requirements should be downgraded)
  • a report including all technical documentation, and costings
  • a report outlining the steps taken to arrive at this design and the range of considerations that impacted this decision
  • accessible instructions for construction of the device.

Skills and experience

To be considered for this project you will need:

  • experience with - or a strong interest in researching - popular microcontrollers and single-board computers, such as:
    • Raspberry Pi,
    • Arduino, ESP32), and
  • associated modules, such as:
    • RC522,
    • PIR sensors
  • familiarity with writing C, Python, and/or Javascript
  • experience with (or a strong interest in researching) Internet of Things (IoT) system architecture design
  • experience with (or a strong interest in researching) electronics system design and development
  • great written communication skills.


You may be eligible to apply for a research scholarship.

Explore our research scholarships



Contact the supervisor for more information.