[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCpR4JTEy4c&feature=player_detailpage]YouTube - Introducing Leafsnap[/ame]
Leafsnap is a tree field guide for iPhone and iPad from Columbia Engineering, University of Maryland and the Smithsonian Institute, who have come together to create the world’s first plant indentification mobile app, that uses visual search. Leafsnap enables users to identify a tree’s species simply by taking a photograph of the tree’s leaves. The app will also provide high-res photographs and information about the tree’s flowers, fruit, seeds and bark, as well as the species name.
The app has had some not entirely favourable reviews in the app store, but I would imagine it’s only a couple of updates away from living up to its potential, and it is free after all. A nice idea, and perfect timing for those spring and summer woodland walks.“We wanted to use mathematical techniques we were developing for face recognition and apply them to species identification,” said Peter Belhumeur, professor of computer science at Columbia and leader of the Columbia team working on Leafsnap. “Traditional field guides can be frustrating—you often do not find what you are looking for. We thought we could redesign them using today’s smartphones and visual recognition technology.”
“Leafsnap was originally designed as a specialized aid for scientists and plant explorers to discover new species in poorly known habitats,” said John Kress, leader of the Smithsonian team working on Leafsnap. Kress was digitizing the botanical specimens at the Smithsonian when first contacted by Jacobs and Belhumeur, so the match between a botanist and computer scientists came at a perfect time. “Now Smithsonian research is available as an app for the public to get to know the plant diversity in their own backyards, in parks and in natural areas. This tool is especially important for the environment, because learning about nature is the first step in conserving it.”
Click here to download the free app: Leafsnap for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad on the iTunes App Store