Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Review: SonoChiro Auto Bat Call ID Software

Review: SonoChiro Auto Bat Call ID Software

The SonoChiro software from Biotope, is an automated bat call identification program. This software package is provided as a downloadable/Online purchase; from the Biotope Website.

The process of purchasing, downloading, and installing the application is very straightforward. Most potential owners/end users, will no doubt already be well-experienced with this typical install process.
The downloaded executable for SonoChiro is 9.8MB in size, and installation is fairly quick and easy; with no "surprises". The most time-consuming portion of the process, is filling-in the electronic Registration form.

SonoChiro is provided on an annual subscription basis, which includes all updates for one year. The current price is 846 Euros, including VAT.

As many of my Visitors may know by now, whenever I review any bat detecting product: I like to be quite descriptive, in regards to every feature and detail. As an example, for the past couple of years, I've even included photos of the shipping box the equipment arrives in. Not such an odd practice, I think... I've seen reviews of various products, where the reviewer includes such (packaging) details.
Here, we are discussing a downloaded software package, so I may not have any physical packaging to describe...However, SonoChiro features some interesting designs. I've already expressed my fondness of their main (purple) bat logo (in the 'First Impressions' Post).

I even like the Biotope logo! 

{So, if the Folks at Biotope / SonoChiro offer any apparel featuring these logos - please let me know!}

Upon launching, you'll notice that The SonoChiro application features a neat dialog box (screen shot below). The purple background is a stylized photo of a bat in flight. Don't let the modest size of it's interface fool you: This software application is serious business! How do I know this?

SonoChiro application dialog box

Having had a fairly long career as a Computer Engineer, I have a natural tendency to really put computer software (and hardware) "through it's paces", etc. And, I find myself testing and experimenting with such products in ways which only an advanced Engineer would understand.
So, I tested this application in many different ways. As always, this application has been tested on more than one laptop.
As a simple example - While testing it on one laptop in particular: I found that the application uses quite a bit of the computer's resources. To the point where the laptop began to run hot!

Now, almost all software applications will suggest, that you "close any other programs" which you may have open/running, etc. And, of course it is always a good practice to close applications that you are not using. However, in the case of SonoChiro, I feel that it is even more important to adhere to this suggestion. Especially, if you happen to be using it on an older, slower laptop. 

Having stated all that...During the test period I can say, that I've never had The SonoChiro "crash", freeze, or stop responding. Only those who are very experienced with software, can fully appreciate how impressive this is.

The ideal buyer of SonoChiro ID software, would be someone who records bat calls in any of the geographic areas indicated on (their) Map - Which may be seen on Page 5 of the User Manual. Note - North America is not included (unfortunately for me!).

Since the main output format of this bat call ID software is in Microsoft Excel format - This product would be best used, by someone who is familiar with this MS Office application. I mention this specifically, since a .csv file is the only output that SonoChiro produces.
This is not to say that mastery of Microsoft Excel (or any other App capable of viewing a .csv file) is required. My point, is that if I were a potential customer - I would want to be well-versed in the manipulation of .csv files. In order to get the most out of the data produced.

The process of using SonoChiro is very simple - Basically comprised of:
  1. Specifying the location of your recordings.
  2. Chosing a name for your Output (Excel/.csv) file.
  3. Select one of the (preset) geographical ranges.
  4. Click on 'Start'
That is basically it, then you just sit back and wait for your .csv file to be created. And, I do mean sit back and wait...because this software takes it's time...
Well, just remember the old saying - "all good things to those who wait"

From the many tests I've put this software through, I can state that it is indeed very accurate. This was largely determined, by using known (voucher) calls - Of species which were within SonoChiro's capabilities. The example (voucher) calls were of various species of bats, and happened to have been recorded by (well-known) respected Scientists in the field of Bat Research. I won't go into all the details at this time.

Pros -
  • Powerful, robust, software that doesn't crash.
  • Very accurate and reliable for ID of bat calls.
Cons -
  • Only outputs results in one file/format (.csv file).
  • Doesn't cover North American species.
If you are looking for an accurate and dependable bat call identification software, and you live in one of the geographical ranges covered - Then I would highly recommend that you look into SonoChiro!

Good luck, and...
Happy bat detecting!

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