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First steps toward an electronic field guide for plants

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Abstract:

We describe an ongoing project to digitize information about plant specimens and make it available to botanists in the field. This first requires digital images and models, and then effective retrieval and mobile computing mechanisms for accessing this information. We have almost completed a digital archive of the collection of type specimens at the Smithsonian Institution Department of Botany. Using these and additional images, we have also constructed prototype electronic field guides for the flora of Plummers Island. Our guides use a novel computer vision algorithm to compute leaf similarity. This algorithm is integrated into image browsers that assist a user in navigating a large collection of images to identify the species of a new specimen. For example, our systems allow a user to photograph a leaf and use this image to retrieve a set of leaves with similar shapes. We measured the effectiveness of one of these systems with recognition experiments on a large dataset of images, and with user studies of the complete retrieval system. In addition, we describe future directions for acquiring models of more complex, 3D specimens, and for using new methods in wearable computing to interact with data in the 3D environment in which it is acquired.

Keywords: AUGMENTED REALITY; COMPUTER VISION; CONTENT-BASED IMAGE RETRIEVAL; ELECTRONIC FIELD GUIDE; INNERDISTANCE; MOBILE COMPUTING; RECOGNITION; SHAPE MATCHING; SPECIES IDENTIFICATION; TYPE SPECIMENS; WEARABLE COMPUTING

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies, A.V. Williams Building, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland 20742, U.S.A. 2: Department of Computer Science, Columbia University, 450 Computer Science Building, 1214 Amsterdam Avenue, New York 10027, U.S.A. 3: Department of Botany, MRC-166, United States National Herbarium, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, P.O. Box 37012, Washington, DC 20013-7012, U.S.A.

Publication date: August 1, 2006

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