SOUTHAMPTON scientists are doing their bit to help boost the economy – by building an amazing cyber rhinoceros.
Tweeting is not something you would usually associate with a rhino, but thanks to tech experts in the city, it is now.
Erica the cyber rhino is set to be one of the main attractions of Marwell Wildlife’s Go! Rhinos public art extravaganza, with her ability to blink, move her ears and even tweet.
The state-of-the-art rhino sculpture has been designed and built by specialist staff and students from the University of Southampton – completely customised with digital features to make her an interactive spectacle for all to enjoy.
Using small low power computers, Erica can respond to nearby people and even has her own WiFi network so the public can interact with her via their smart phones.
She boasts LED lights to help her blink and adjust to focus on her fans, she can read QR codes, move her ears,tweet and read tweets.
The digital masterpiece has her very own“brain team” from the Electronics and Computer Science department, who have made it possible for her to learn about her environment, and have provided her with both short and long-term memory.
Dr Kirk Martinez, who is leading the team, said: “We are really enjoying bringing together lots of cool technology to make our rhino interactive.
“The team of volunteers building it are specialists in areas like web technology or electronics and are really excited about the project.”
She will be just one of the many rhinos who will be popping up in streets and parks across Southampton as part of the Daily Echo-backed Go! Rhinos project, which aims to boost the local economy by creating a unique trail for families and tourists to follow for ten weeks, starting on July 13.
A total of 30 businesses and nearly 60 schools from across Hampshire have signed up to join the stampede with their very own life-sized rhino.
Kirstie Mathieson, Go! Rhinos project manager, added: “We are thrilled to see the transformation of Erica into a truly interactive and unique piece of art and science.
“The team at ECS have worked so hard and everyone at Marwell Wildlife is so excited to have her as part of the trail.”
At the end of the Daily Echo-backed event, the sculptures will be auctioned off, with the proceeds being split between Marwell’s rhino conservation work, the Rose Road Association and Wessex Heartbeat’s HIGH 5 Appeal.