Treen

Today, animal tracking technology plays a huge role in saving endangered species as well as helping us learn about different ecosystems. However, often these trackers comes at the expense of the animal’s well-being. Tracking devices often can impede mobility, cause stress, and require traumatic capture/release methods.

Treen is a redesign of animal trackers with a focus on care ethics ideals. Rather than asking “What is just?”, care ethics asks “How to respond?”. This emphasis on responding helps people take good choices and achieve a way of living deepened by our care towards each other.

Treen works by having nano-sensors embedded in the seeds of plants different animals eat. The seeds are planted and allowed to grow. Animals come along and eat the plants along with the nano-sensors that grew with it. The nano-sensors log data and transmit back to the scientist. There is minimal involvement and handling of the animal from scientists and Treen is not as invasive as wearable collars or bulky sensor systems. Because the sensors are ingested, Treen can be placed without the use of sedatives or traps.

While Treen addresses some of the current concerns around animal trackers, the idea behind this speculative design project is less about the actual solution but the culture of how we approach design in the first place. Through the lens of care ethics, it is important to actively and continually consider how products affect the well-being of all living beings.