Field of Science

Plant ID Cell Phone App

For those of you who have found cell phones useful, there soon will be a new application (that's what app stands for) that will take that picture of a flower or leaf you took and compare it via a google like search, but using images not words, to identify the plant. Now the Phactor has no idea how good the Leafsnap plant ID app is, but the botanist involved is my old buddy John Kress of the Smithsonian, the guy someone called the Indiana Jones of Ginger, and he does know his stuff, and no question about it, this cell phone app will be a whole lot easier to move around than John's usual plant ID facility, the Smithsonian's millions of plant specimens housed in their (our) herbarium. So if you find yourself lost deep in the wilds of New York's Central Park (Well, you have to start somewhere with plant ID so why not someplace central?) you can identify every plant found there with a leaf, flower, or fruit. So those of you actually have a cell phone, a smart one that can use these apps, do let us know how it goes. Now as a long time experienced plant IDer, it will be interesting to see how this works because variation is the demon, and how does the program make image comparisons? Maybe the software is borrowed from the face recognition programs that work so well on the CSI programs, but then again they seem to have scanning electron microscopes that no only image things like pollen grains but label them for you! Oh, did anyone mention that Leafsnap is free? Plant ID will be added to the list of reasons why the Phactor doesn't need a cell phone.

No comments: