Australian scientists have created Shazam for snakes and spiders
Updated: Aug 26, 2020
The national science Agency of Australia (CSIRO) has developed the Critterpedia app in collaboration with local entrepreneurs. The program is similar to Shazam — it identifies a species of spider or snake using machine vision.
In Australia, there are at least two thousand species of spiders and 170 species of snakes, writes Vice. 90% of them are safe for humans, but there are two species of spiders and twelve species of snakes whose bites can be fatal. The development of CSIRO helps to determine how dangerous the encountered animal is.
Users upload photos of a spider or snake to the app, which then uses machine vision to recognize and classify the animal. The program then provides the user with information about the family, genus, and species, including the hazard level.
"The visual differences between different species can sometimes be quite small, so a huge amount of data is needed to train the model," said Matt Adcock, project Manager and employee of Data61, a division of CSIRO. — We used an image dataset obtained from Zoology experts who work with Critterpedia."
Users themselves can contribute to the program's training: each photo that is uploaded to the app adds to its database. In addition, Critterpedia analyzes not only the image but also information such as GPS location. Developers expect that with user input, the identification system will become more reliable and accurate as more variables are entered.
The author of the idea for Critterpedia was Nick and Murray Scars, who came up with the app after their relatives from the UK came to Australia. Faced with a huge number of questions about local snakes and spiders, Nick realized that people needed accessible information to quickly and accurately identify certain species.
"Providing people with knowledge about wildlife in a fun, interactive way, especially with a focus on dangerous and poisonous animals, is what will make a difference in their lives. Critterpedia will help create a world where people and animals can coexist peacefully, " the developers hope.