Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a new system that remotely monitors the behavior of freshwater mussels and alerts them to the presence of toxic substances in the water.
Scientists have developed a Fitbit water quality detector that tracks the activity of mussels.
When the mussels feed, they open their shells, but if there is anything harmful in the water, they instantly slam shut.
In the new system, developers observe the behavior of mussels to determine how often they close their shells, at what speed and how they coordinate with each other.
In particular, the system uses two inertial units of measure (IMU) on each mussel. Each of the IMUS includes a magnetometer and an accelerometer: they are likely in your smartphone and monitor its movement from place to place.
One IMU is attached to the upper shell of the mussel, the other to the lower one. This allows researchers to compare the movement of the shell halves relative to each other. In other words, it allows researchers to determine if the mussel is accurately closing its shell.
When placed in a natural environment, the data collection system is powered by a solar panel and transmits data from sensors wirelessly. The developed type works for four mussels connected to the system, but can handle dozens.