*** The second generation Echo Meter Touch is due to be released in spring 2017 and will offer more user options, better performance and an unbeatable price. ***
The hardware for the Echo Meter Touch consists of an ultrasonic module which connects directly to your iPad or iPhone. This module has an ultrasonic microphone, preamp and gain circuitry, analog-to-digital converter and a microprocessor that streams the data to the iOS device in real time. It enables you to listen to bats in real time, record onto your device and also to identify your calls to species level in seconds using onboard Kaleidoscope algorithms. If your device has GPS functionality (such as the iPhone), the Echo Meter Touch will also log the recording location and path of the recording session. If you do not have GPS functionality, you can use a Bluetooth GPS module for this. Take a look at this video to see how tough the Echo Meter Touch really is.
The microphone on the ultrasonic module is an FG element which is extremely sensitive, even to very low noise, and is weatherproof. The mic is omnidirectional and is mounted at a 45° angle in the enclosure – this makes it suitably orientated whether the device is held in landscape or portrait. The device has a sample rate of 256kHz and so will record echolocation calls of up to 128kHz.
Make recordings with the EMTouch
Recordings made by the Echo Meter Touch will be saved directly onto your iOS device. Minimum size of compatible devices is 16GB and the maximum supported size is 128GB. Since an average night of recording will use approximately 0.5GB, even a small device will store calls from several nights. Calls can then be transferred to your computer for further analysis or storage using the Wifi Export in-app (available from the app store). This requires only a Wifi connection and web browser. Files can also be converted from WAV to zero-crossing using the free Kaleidoscope converter software.
Automatically identify bats using the EMTouch
Onboard classification requires the Auto-ID in-app and is based on Kaleidoscope algorithms. This can all be conducted on your iOS device within seconds. Classifiers are currently available for most North American and UK species.
Buy the EMTouch
The EMTouch hardware is available from NHBS. The apps must be downloaded from the App Store.
Please follow the link below for an up to date list of the iOS devices with which the Echo Meter Touch is compatible.
Echo Meter Touch Compatibility
This brand-new Echo Meter Touch features an omni-directional, FG microphone element; which has the added benefit of being weather resistant. Some may choose to use it for some unattended recording, with the aid of a Lightning Cable extension. Although, while testing the review unit, I managed fine without one. And, the majority of my bat detecting/recording is done by unattended monitoring.
I have a feeling that, at first glance - Many readers may not have considered The EM Touch a good candidate for unattended bat recording - But, alas! It is! I was surprised by this myself (at the very start). Yes, I had my doubts at the beginning. However, after reading the User Guide, and actually using it on a nightly basis, I quickly realized that my doubts were unfounded.
When set-up near a window, in a rural/quiet environment (sans man-made noises) it performs admirably, for a whole evening's worth of monitoring.
I presume that many potential owners, might make the very same (or other) assumptions; simply based on what the EM Touch looks like. As seen pictured in several (small) advertisements in online catalogs and other Web sites: It seems to give one the impression of being a fine, dynamic bat recorder for use in the field. But, few would ever guess that it also:
* Performs well as an unattended monitoring solution.
* Has built in automatic triggering, for the exclusive recording of ultrasounds.
* Can still perform, in the background, while you work with other Applications.
It sports a 256K Sample Rate, 12 Bit full-spectrum .wav file recording, and includes a recording range from 8kHz to 125kHz - Which means I get to record some singing insects when the mood strikes me.
The EM Touch is delightfully small; even when inside it's protective case.
What we have here, is truly a super-portable bat detector. Not just a small frequency division or heterodyne detector, which simply produces clicks, or "plops", etc. But, a full-spectrum recorder, that is quite capable in it's own right. With the added benefits of looking at/recording a live spectrogram while detecting in the field.
In fact, when you stop to think about it - This new Echo Meter Touch is really in a league of it's own. I'm not sure, if typical FD/Het detectors should even be mentioned in the same paragraph!
Although The EM Touch may be even smaller than the average Hobbyist's detector - It is a device several magnitudes more capable than a typical bat enthusiast's detector.
And, yes - It's price is also several magnitudes higher. Especially, if you do not already own a compatible Apple iOS device.
It is true, that in such instances: Your initial monetary outlay may be considerable. All of this is just idle speculation, of course. Everyone has their own particular budget constraints.
Take me, for instance - I (still) consider myself to be a bat detecting Hobbyist / enthusiast...
I have only a (very) modest income, and limited discretionary funds - Yet, I saw fit to begin the process of equipping myself with an iPad mini Retina, to be followed by an Echo Meter Touch, and required software.
I'd like to try and share, what I found, during my individual "journey": Which consisted of first buying myself an iPad mini Retina. The first thing I found, was that the iPad naturally filled an "opening" or "void" in my daily technology needs. Technology Geeks will no doubt, understand what I'm referring to here!
In layman's terms - I now wonder how I ever got along without one! An Apple iPad, that is. In short, I've found The iPad mini Retina to easily outperform my (usual) Asus mini-notebook; in just about every aspect.
On the other hand...
What if you do already own a compatible iOS device? Well, then it's a "no-brainer" (as they say) - If the cost of an Echo Meter Touch is in your considered budget - Then, the choice is simple: Go for it!
Why? Because you are simply getting the absolute most-for-your-money in the case of an EM Touch. It is the obvious choice, in it's price range. Remember, that an Apple iTunes software purchase is also required; in order for this system to Rock 'n Roll!
Here, is where I should re-iterate, that I am not affiliated with Wildlife Acoustics in any way. As always, I'm simply doing my best to share my experiences and opinions.
Everyone's budget is different, of course! There are many Hobbyists and (especially) Beginners, for whom this route would be outside of (or place a strain on) their budget. And, yet there are many for whom The EM Touch would be exactly what they were looking for.
I've had several people message me recently. Each wanted a bat call recorder, which would allow them to record and analyze the spectrograms of bats. They were willing to use external recorders and audio cable connections to capture the calls picked-up by the already somewhat costly detector. These people were starting out with budgets, which would've easily allowed them to get an EM Touch and the required software.
The catch? They would have to already be proud owners of one of the (compatible) iPad devices. Even the correct model iPhone, and they'd be up and running! But...If not, we are back at the "Budgeting table" - Discussing the acquisition of an appropriate iOS device.
Installation, is a piece of cake, of course! And the more familiar you are with your iOS device, the quicker it will go. As you might expect - The most time-consuming portion, is the purchase/download/install of the software (from Apple's iTunes Store). If you do a bit of reading there, you will see that there have already been some small improvements made. And, I've always been a fan of ongoing improvements!
Once installed/set-up - The Echo Meter Touch is truly, very easy to use. Operation of the iPad application is intuitive, and I found it to be a spontaneous, and fun learning experience! The layout of the application's buttons and Menu choices are all conveniently implemented. No one will ever be able to accuse the EM Touch application of being convoluted, or difficult to get acclimated to. It all seems to flow very naturally during normal use; this is a big plus while in the field.
Yet, at the same time - You can become even better acquainted with it's capabilities at your leisure, via the (dynamic) User Guide, which you can read right on your iOS device.
Now, I cannot divulge any specifics - But, I will reiterate: In the months (and even years) to come, The Echo Meter Touch will improve and morph in ways, which many of you would not expect. The software end is already being updated, my test iPad automatically prompted me to download/install updates (to Ver. 1.0.3 now). And, let's not forget (one of my favourite little wonders) Firmware updates!
Happy bat detecting!