‘Citizen science’ nature app uses AI, smartphone camera

‘Citizen science’ nature app uses AI, smartphone camera

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By Rich Pell

Designed to encourage users to learn about and document the natural world around them, EarthSnap enables users to identify all types of Earth’s plant and animal species via a mobile phone camera. When users upload photos of plants or animals to EarthSnap, the app utilizes a custom-built, patent-pending AI machine learning solution to identify the subject and share details like habitat, global population distribution and known history on Earth.

These uploaded photos also contribute to EarthSnap’s ever-growing database – applications of which include recording animal migration habits, shifting habitats and animal behavior. This information, says the developer, will be open source and shared with citizens and the scientific community – it will not be sold or privatized.

“My goal has always been to bring people back to nature, to help them realize that humanity is a part of nature, not ‘apart’ from nature,” says Eric Ralls, Founder and CEO of EarthSnap. “Homosapiens are only one species out of over 8 million species of life with whom we share this planet. Yet humanity treats the earth like it is ours alone to do with as we please, even though we’ve only been here for a few hundred thousand years out of the 3.5 billion years that this beautiful blue marble has been zipping through the universe.”

“Many people with phones spend their free moments engaged with that phone rather than with nature, never stopping to ‘smell the flowers’,” says Ralls. “Rather than trying to get people away from their phones and into the world, EarthSnap brings nature into their phones and gives users the best of both worlds.”

EarthSnap features a social community, Earthchat, which connects users with other Earth-minded people from all corners of the globe and enables users to promote their organizations and earth-friendly causes to the global EarthSnap community via mobile-friendly forums and feeds. EarthChat features hundreds of online communities focusing on earth, environment and nature-related topics.

EarthSnap is free to download from the Apple Store and Google Playstore. Subscription tier and premium features available.

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