This electronic field guide allows users to identify tree species simply by taking a photograph of the tree’s leaves. In addition to the species name, Leafsnap provides high-resolution photographs and information about the tree’s flowers, fruit, seeds and bark—giving the user a comprehensive understanding of the species.
Users of Leafsnap will not only be learning about the trees in their communities and on their hikes; they will also be contributing to science. As people use Leafsnap, the free mobile app automatically shares their images, species identifications and the tree’s location with a community of scientists. These scientists will use the information to map and monitor population growth and decline of trees nationwide. Currently, Leafsnap’s database includes the trees of the Northeast, but will soon expand to cover the trees of the entire continental United States. The app is available for the iPhone, with iPad and Android versions expected to be released later this summer.
APPlying Visual Recognition Tech to Trees
The genesis of the project was the desire by computer scientists David Jacobs of the University of Maryland and Peter Belhumeur of Columbia University to apply the face recognition technologies that they were developing to the identification of tree species. They approached John Kress, research botanist at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, to collaborate on remaking the traditional field guide for the 21st century.
"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," said Belhumeur, professor of computer science at Columbia and leader of the Columbia team working on Leafsnap.
The visual recognition algorithms developed by the University of Maryland and Columbia University are key to Leafsnap. Each leaf photograph is matched against a leaf image library using numerous shape measurements computed at points along the leaf’s outline. The best matches are then ranked and returned to the user for final verification.
"Within a single species leaves can have quite diverse shapes, while leaves from different species are sometimes quite similar," said Jacobs, a professor of computer science at Maryland. "So one of the main technical challenges in using leaves to identify plant species has been to find effective representations of their shape, which capture their most important characteristics.”
The algorithms and software were developed by Columbia and Maryland, and the Smithsonian supervised the identification and collection of leaves needed to create the image library used for the visual recognition in Leafsnap. In addition, the not-for-profit organization Finding Species was hired and supervised by the Smithsonian to acquire the detailed species images seen in the Leafsnap app and on the Leafsnap.com website.
"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."About the University of Maryland
Lee Tune | Newswise Science News
A novel hybrid UAV that may change the way people operate drones
28.03.2017 | Science China Press
Timing a space laser with a NASA-style stopwatch
28.03.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.
To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
29.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
29.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
29.03.2017 | Earth Sciences