iPhone Citizen Science

iphone picture with leaves
specialkrb on Flickr

Go ahead and throw that iPhone into your daypack, you might just be part of a scientific revolution.

Scientists at the Smithsonian, the University of Maryland and Columbia University are developing an iPhone app that will let users snap photos of leaves to get instant identification of the plant. But wait, it does more. The app would then beam that information to a database where scientists could use it for research.

The information could be a boon for people studying climate change and biodiversity loss, but it could also bring the casual hiker closer to nature, according to John Kress, a botanist with the Smithsonian.

“The first thing you need to know about any spec is what is its name,” Kress told CNN. “Once you know its name, it opens up a whole world of information about that organism.”

The app will start with plants from Central Park, and then spread throughout the Northeast, and hopefully around the world.

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