Hagen contributes to National Geographic software package

Hagen contributes to National Geographic software package
Priscilla Hagen, associate professor of theater at The University of South Dakota, recently completed recording voiceover narration for the National Geographic Handheld Birds Program, software for recognizing birds out in the field.

This project was sponsored by National Geographic, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and the American Birding Association. The research and development for this program was also funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.�

Thanks in part to Hagen's efforts, birdwatchers will now be able to use personal data assistants (PDAs) to identify birds throughout North America with software developed by pullUin software, a Vermillion based company which got its start in 2000 thanks to the South Dakota Health Research Foundation, a joint partnership between Sioux Valley Health System and USD. The software incorporates bird songs and calls with illustrations and text-based content to create the first in a series of electronic field guides.


Hagen credited the recent development and expansion of regional technology-based businesses with allowing new competitors like into the market, and hopes that this growing field will allow her theater students to become involved with future projects.

"Technology has really leveled the playing field. Companies outside of New York, L.A., and Chicago can put together projects of this sort, and this is new. I have been able to involve one of my students in another project with the company and it's my great hope to someday involve as many students as I can. This is just another way to use acting training," Hagen said.

Although serious birders will likely be among the first to utilize this innovative tool, the product was designed for beginning to moderate birders and will likely appeal to users of all levels because of its user-friendly interface, the large amount of high quality information and portability.

Handheld Birds is available for purchase on www.handheldbirds.com, the National Geographic Web site and catalog, from Cornell's Laboratory of Ornithology, at bird stores across the country and from the American Birding Association Web site and catalog.�

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