[CT Birds] Birdsnap iPhone app: you snap, it ID's

Arthur Shippee ashippee at snet.net
Thu Jun 5 10:08:09 EDT 2014

My sister sent me this news:  point & snap, and the app gives you likely ID's.  They say it's to "help people learn to recognize birds," but I am concerned it will get in the way of learning core observation skills (like patience).  

> Heard about this??  Looks amazing.  You could lose hours noodling around here.
> http://engineering.columbia.edu/it-crow-or-raven-new-birdsnap-app-will-tell-you-0

Researchers at Columbia Engineering, led by Computer Science Professor Peter Belhumeur, have taken bird-watching to a new level. Using computer vision and machine learning techniques they have developed Birdsnap, a new iPhone app that is an electronic field guide featuring 500 of the most common North American bird species. The free app, which enables users to identify bird species through uploaded photos, accompanies a visually beautiful, comprehensive website that includes some 50,000 images. Birdsnap, which also features birdcalls for each species, [and also] the frequency with which they are sighted at a particular place and season. ....

“Our goal is to use computer vision and artificial intelligence to create a digital field guide that will help people learn to recognize birds,” says Computer Science Professor Peter Belhumeur, who launchedLeafsnap, a similar electronic field guide for trees, with colleagues two years ago. “We’ve been able to take an incredible collection of data—thousands of photos of birds—and use technology to organize the data in a useful and fun way.”

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