Future iPhone App to Make You a Citizen Scientist Without Trying

iphone 4 photo
Photo by Nico Kaiser via Flickr CC

So what if you could become a citizen scientist simply by using your iPhone? Scientists are working on an app that would let users simply snap photos of a plant's leaves and automatically upload the information to a central database where it could be accessed for research, helping scientists follow what's happening with our natural world as the climate changes. Researchers from Columbia University, University of Maryland, and the Smithsonian are all working on figuring out how to create an iPhone app that allows the user to snap a photo of a plant species' leaves, and send the info off to a global database for research.

It's no wonder that the app could be difficult to build, considering how similar many species look to one another, as well as how bad some people are with using a camera (and let's leave alone how junky the iPhone's camera currently is...).

The project, though, aims to start with plants from Central Park, then spread out to the northeast US, and finally on to more remote areas of the world as people travel to less explored areas of the globe, iPhone in tow. It could be a great way to utilize citizen science, while the users don't have to do much of anything except take a few great shots of interesting plants.

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Tags: Cell Phones | Electronics | Gadgets


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