FIELD biology is notoriously laborious. In one famous 1982 study, Smithsonian entomologist Terry Erwin counted by hand the number of insect species in one hectare of forest canopy in Panama. By extrapolation Erwin estimated the total biodiversity of Earth’s insects. What if your smartphone could take some of the strain?
Harvard biologist and computer scientist Walter Scheirer has devised a machine vision system that automatically recognises and counts specific animals and runs on a Motorola Droid X2 smartphone. This will help biologists make quicker, more accurate judgements about the health of delicate ecosystems.