First Steps Toward an Electronic Field Guide for Plants

TitleFirst Steps Toward an Electronic Field Guide for Plants
Publication TypeJournal Articles
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsHaibin G A, Agarwal G, Ling H, Jacobs DW, Shirdhonkar S, Kress JW, Russell R, Belhumeur P, Dixit A, Feiner S, Mahajan D, Sunkavalli K, Ramamoorthi R, White S
Pagination597 - 610
Date Published2006///

this paper, we will describe our progress towards building a digital collection of the Smithsonian's type specimens, developing recognition algorithms that can match an image of a leaf to the species of plant from which it comes, and designing user interfaces for interacting with an electronic field guide. To start, we are developing a prototype electronic field guide for the flora of Plummers Island, a small, well-studied island in the Potomac River. This prototype system contains multiple images for each of about 130 species of plants on the island, and should soon grow to cover all 200+ species currently recorded (Shetler et al., 2005). Images of full specimens are available, as well as images of isolated leaves of each species. A zoomable user interface allows a user to browse these images, zooming in on ones of interest. Visual recognition algorithms assist a botanist in locating the specimens that are most relevant to identify the species of a plant. The system currently runs on a small hand-held computer. We will describe the components of this prototype, and also describe some of the future challenges we anticipate if we are to provide botanists in the field with all the resources that are now currently available in the world's museums and herbaria. Type Specimen Digital Collection The first challenge in producing our electronic field guide is to create a digital collection covering all of the Smithsonian's 85,000 vascular plant type specimens. For each type specimen, the database should eventually include systematically acquired high-resolution digital images of the specimen, textual descriptions, links to decision trees, images of live plants, and 3D models. Figure 1: On the left, our set-up at the Smithsonian for digitally photographing type specimens. On the...