Initiated in 2009, the Pl@ntNet project, backed by Agropolis Fondation, provides a collaborative platform and tools to make it easier to share information about plants. Alexis Joly and Pierre Bonnet present the project.
From the developer
The goal of this software is to allow you to submit botanical pictures against a database in order to help you in the identification process, and extract the closest matches in the database rather than manually searching through thousand of entries.
In order to use this software you will have to choose between the following databases which is most adapted to your picture identification, depending on the plant location, and the type of data contained in your picture (each database is illustrated by a random set of images to give you the big picture!). After following the "Identify" link corresponding to the knowledge database you have chosen, you will then be invited to provide the picture(s) of the species you are willing to identify and launch the identification process.
Pl@ntNet: plants and humans
Pl@ntNet is a unique system in its field that allows its users to submit several photographs of a single plant depicting different detailed views of its organs (flower, leaf, fruit, stem). These photos are then automatically compared with the images in a botanical database, enabling the user to find the name of a plant's species from a list of results. The iPhone version of the Pl@ntNet application, launched at the beginning of 2013, has now been downloaded 80,000 times. The Android version, released in January 2014, has already registered 3,600 downloads.
"Between 500 and 1,000 people per day use the app during the summer. We've even had up to 150 uses per day in the middle of the winter! These figures are higher than we could have anticipated," says Pierre Bonnet.
Pl@ntNet has been enriched by the data collected by its users and, thanks to a snowball effect, has become much more widely used. "At launch the application had a repository of French flora totalling 800 species. Pl@ntNet now contains nearly 4,000 species and 86,000 images," says Alexis Joly. Despite these good figures, the two researchers, who are the first to be surprised by the interest the app has attracted, refuse to label it a success. The Pl@ntNet application would not have worked so well without the technological progress of the last two years in mobile telephony. This includes the fact that the latest smartphones take very good quality photos. What's more, the initial challenge was sizeable. "Presenting such rich structured visual data and basing this on the leaves, flowers and stems of the majority of species in French flora was something that didn't exist at all," says Pierre Bonnet.
Making nature searchable
Pl@ntNet includes an automatic plant identification tool based on photos, which draws on the visual search engine Ikona-maestro-pmh initially developed at Inria by the Imedia team, then improved as part of the project. It also draws on the wealth of the Tela Botanica network to enrich the database used, as well as on the data sent by numerous enthusiast contributors, from students to retired individuals and school pupils.
"This is a collaborative knowledge production initiative, like Wikipedia. The idea is that the whole is enriched by the users," explain Pierre and Alexis.
In addition to the data collection afforded by this participatory aspect, Pl@ntNet is of both educational and ecological interest. "We'll be able to try to measure the ecological impacts of natural phenomena or human activity," says Alexis Joly. With a smartphone application, everyone can conduct tests and contribute. This makes Pl@ntNet a good way to raise the public's awareness of the flora around them, as well as issues connected with invasive and allergenic plants.
This awareness-raising involves concrete actions such as the organisation of initiatives, participation in the Science Fair and other events, etc. The project team has also moved onto social networks and is involved with schools, media libraries and is working on collaborations with botanical gardens. "We're currently helping schools with digital herbarium projects at a classroom level. The teacher and their class are therefore actually contributing to a research project whose finished product they can use. Through this exchange, we'd like to collect numerous botanical data that we can work on," explains Pierre Bonnet.
France, and beyond...
Unfortunately for now, the dataset of 100,000 images and 4,000 species is largely useful to those in France, or those encountering plants that grow in France. But with a crowdsouced, geotagged database accessible to people anywhere in the world, it’s not hard to imagine this project will flourish to become of more global utility soon.
Watch Pal@ntNet in action [video demo]
Editors note: Click here to Find a Local Farmer
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Do You Know Your Body’s Most Important Weight Loss Secret?
By J. Davis III
Tags: HEALING | HEALTHY FATS | REMEDIES
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By Richard Neal
Tags: HEALING | REMEDIES | PREVENTION
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#1 muscle that eliminates joint and back pain, anxiety and looking fat
By J. Davis III
Tags: HEALING | PREVENTION
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