Ever wanted to know what the world looks like through the eyes of an insect, a bird, or a ferret? Now you can with the MicaToolbox (Multi-Spectral Image Calibration and Analysis Toolbox), an open-access software plugin that converts digital images into the way they would be seen through the eyes of individual animals.
Built by a team from the Centre for Ecology and Conservation at the University of Exeter, the kit consists of scripts and extensions for ImageJ (Windows, Mac, and Linux), the popular public domain software for scientific image processing. With the kit in tow, the software can turn any image into animal vision, fashioning it into the kind of visuals that insects, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, or other animals will register into their brains.
The MicaToolbox can directly convert an image into any animal color space available in the system. For best results, though, the kit includes specific data on camera settings for studying the vision of different animals, so you can take photographs that will work best with the system’s functions. For animals that can see into the ultraviolet space, for instance, you will need to use images that have been taken using a camera converted to full-spectrum sensitivity, feeding it two photographs (one taken through a visible-pass filter and another through an ultraviolet-pass filter) in order to properly replicate the way they see the world.
As of now, the micaToolbox has already been used in a variety of research projects in the fields of camouflaging, animal signaling, and predation. You can download the software from University of Exeter researcher Jolyon Troscianko’s website.