About

Freaklabs develops hardware for environmental, conservation and wildlife monitoring in partnership with individual researchers, research institutes, global organisations, NGOs and government. We develop systems that are customised, accessible and affordable, and can be maintained by those that use them.

What We Do

We design new devices, adapt existing devices, and take ideas or prototypes to field-ready, deployable devices.  We also offer open source ‘off-the-shelf’ hardware and accessories that can be adapted for different types of monitoring and deployment conditions, and provide training and advice on how to do it. The hardware and software we develop for ourselves is open source so it can be adapted and built upon by others for their own needs.

In addition, we run workshops and training on hardware development using Arduino-based boards, advise on ways technology can be used in conservation and other areas such as small-scale agriculture, and basic infrastructure, and explore how partners can tap into the manufacturing ecosystem to make their hardware more affordable.

Our Approach 

We collaborate with domain experts to understand the unasked questions and real needs that underlie each problem we try to solve. We ask what’s the most appropriate technology for the job, not what’s the latest, fastest or most powerful.   We don’t believe technology alone will solve problems or provide the answers, but it can be a powerful tool in the hands of people that are.

For technology to have the most impact, we believe those that use it need to know how it’s made, how it works, how it can be adapted, and how to maintain it.  Knowledge transfer is also important to us. Throughout the process, we emphasise understanding and skill development so our partners have the technical confidence to maintain or adapt their systems as they need to.

Our Projects

We’ve worked with organisations such as The World BankInternational Rice Research Institute (IRRI), and UNESCO and Safecast, on projects spanning wildlife monitoring, non-lethal deterrents for crop protection, conservation, indie and small-scale agriculture, and rural and remote infrastructure.

Our projects include adding audio triggers to camera traps to monitor responses to predator/prey sounds, monitoring the water levels in rice paddies fields, monitoring the GPS and liquid levels in septage trucks to prevent illegal dumping into the Nile, and radiation monitoring in Japan.   Click here to read more about our projects.

The Team

Chris ‘Akiba’ Wang

Akiba has a background in electronics and product design and has been designing circuits for the past 25 years. He’s taught for MIT Media Lab and has been a researcher there as well as Keio University and Osaka University in Japan. His specialty is in wireless sensor networks and worked on the Zigbee standard as well as other communications standards. His work has gravitated towards technology for environmental monitoring and is now working on wildlife conservation.

Jacinta Plucinski

Jacinta is a developer specializing in APIs, and web technologies using python and javascript. She’s interested in ecological restoration, soil, diversity in ecological systems and regenerative agriculture.  She’s also a published author, runs her own book and games publishing company, and has started her own magazine. She’s worked for Google, SCMP, Australian Centre for Moving Image (ACMI) and Special Broadcasting Services (SBS). When not working on conservation technology or publishing projects, she’s in the field farming, hiking, or diving.

Anything Else?

We’re co-founders of Tokyo Hackerspace, and Hackerfarm, a hackerspace with an agricultural context and shared farm, in Japan.  We also run a small-farm and orchard in Japan, where we explore organic and regenerative agriculture, and food forests.