What I learned yesterday – Leafsnap
Yesterday, I was at the reference desk when an older female patron came to the desk holding this plant. She had asked me if I knew what it was. Rather than me blurt out to her, “It’s green and yellow plant,” I did some quick research online for an app and then use my phone for identification. Years ago there was a past app I used, which the names escapes me, that allows the user to take a picture of anything and the app will find out what it is. I knew there had to be something like that that did the same thing but for plants. That’s when I came across Leafsnap.
“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.”
Above is picture I took with my phone and below is the screen capture of the app itself. I was not able to identify the plant for the patron as the app didn’t actually work out. However, being introduced to this piece of tech plus the sub tropical climate around us, this may have some beneficial use for the library in the future.