Living Observatory Sensor Network

Living Observatory's sensor network was developed between 2013 and 2020 by the Responsive Environments Group at the MIT Media Lab in collaboration with Living Observatory. It has been installed at Mass Audubon's Tidmarsh Wildlife Sanctuary in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The network contains cameras, microphones, and hundreds of environmental sensors that stream data to remote network servers where it is archived and shared.

The goal of the first phase of development focused on the design of an efficient sensor network to document, learn from, and share the arc of change of the Tidmarsh Farms Wetland Restoration Project located at the Mass Audubon Tidmarsh Wildlife Sanctuary. Over the years, this network has resulted in the development of an extensive archive of environmental variables that document many aspects of the arc of change at the Tidmarsh Wildlife Sanctuary.

This archive is internationally unique in terms of its duration and the breadth of media represented. It is currently used by reserach colleagues in New York and France. Several friends and colleagues releate that they listen to Tidmarsh when they go to bed. Posts of the wildlife are shared on Instagram and on the TWS Facebook page. These posts tend to generate engaged responses from the
public. The development of this network culminated in Brian Mayton receiving a Ph.D. degree and graduating from the MIT Media Lab in September 2020.

Exploded view of a Tidmarsh sensor node.

Recent Updates

Brian revives the central stream cam

By Glorianna Davenport on December 11, 2022 (updated December 12, 2022)
To begin at the beginning,

Fixing the Central Stream Cam

By Brian Mayton on December 9, 2022
The Central Stream Cam at Tidmarsh, which normally streams 24/7 live video that you can view by clicking here, stopped responding on November 20th. The last video it recorded didn't provide any clues, as it just shows ducks swimming by. Our Southern Marsh cam also failed this fall, after working flawlessly for several years. Yesterday, I made the trip down to Tidmarsh to investigate, with Glorianna in the field with me to help and document.


Brian Mayton. Sensor Networks for Experience and Ecology, Ph.D. Thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, September 2020.


Brian Mayton
Principal Investigator
Clement Duhart
Felix Michaud
Gershon Dublon
Spencer Russell
Blaine Western
Glorianna Davenport
Joe Paradiso


MIT Media Lab
Living Observatory