Friday, November 30, 2012

Nature Nut’s Tech Corner

Illustration by Jean Bitting, 2012

Do you feel like your inner nature nut and techie geeks are at odds with each other? Are you looking for a fresh new way to explore nature?  Are you a technophobe looking for a way to start plugging in? Perhaps you wish you had a way to inspire today’s technologically bound youth to re-connect with the natural world surrounding them? Whatever your current relationship with the ever-changing world of technology might be, the Nature Nut’s Tech Corner is the perfect resource to help you get your geek on with nature!  Visit us on the last Friday of each month, right here, as we spotlight a new field tested application.


In this edition of Nature Nut’s Tech Corner we introduce you to Leafsnap, the first in a series of electronic field guides being developed by researchers from Columbia University, the University of Maryland, and the Smithsonian Institution. The purpose behind Leafsnap is to allow users to become citizen-scientists by providing them with access to visual recognition software to assist them in the identification of tree species. The application, which is currently only available on iPhone and iPad, contains striking photographs of leaves, flowers, seeds, and bark found on the tree species of the Northeastern United States.

iPhone Home & Browsing screens
The free app allows you to browse its database, snap photos to receive suggested matches, and keep track of your own collection of species including their photographs and GPS location. Though still in the beginning stages of development, this application is worth checking out if only to marvel at the beautiful high-resolution photographs. Developers are currently working to expand the collection and have plans to eventually have the database encompass the entire United States and beyond. An Android application is also being developed, however no estimated release date is known at this time since this project is being primarily manned by volunteers. In the meantime, although there is no full version on the web currently, if you are not in the iPhone/iPad platforms, you can still visit the Leafsnap site to view the available species and their high-resolution photographs, learn more about the project, or to volunteer for the project.

We encourage you to be inspired by the beauty found within this application and to be as excited as we are about the eventual expansion of it!  

iPhone match suggestion screens

iPhone Collection screen 

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