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Australian Scientists Have Made A ‘Shazam’ For Snakes And Spiders

by : Lucy Connolly on : 06 Aug 2020 15:27
CSIRO/DATA61

Let’s face it, Shazam is a world-class invention. Got a song stuck in your head and have no idea what it is? Shazam. Want to prove a mate wrong about who sings a particular song? Shazam. Want to impress a date with your extensive music knowledge? Shazam.

Of course, it’s not much use outside of the music world, but all of that’s about to change, because there’s now a version of Shazam for spider and snake lovers – or for those who maybe don’t love them but certainly want to know which ones to avoid.

Essentially, the app – aptly called Critterpedia – will help the everyday user identify different species of spiders and snakes using just a single photo, in the same way Shazam helps you identify different songs using a single sound clip.

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Wolf spiderWolf spiderPixabay

All you need to do is upload an image of a specimen to the app, which will then use an AI-powered algorithm to identify and classify the creature before providing information on the family or species – including its threat level.

In doing so, the developers of Critterpedia hope to provide greater awareness of different wildlife species to potentially help save both human and animal lives, something that will no doubt prove extremely helpful considering there are at least 2,000 species of spider in Australia and 170 species of snake.

While more than 90% of those are unlikely to pose any serious threat to people, there are some – including two types of spider and 12 types of snake – that are venomous and that can kill people.

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Family Cooking Frozen Pizza Shocked To Find 'Baked Snake' In Their OvenFamily Cooking Frozen Pizza Shocked To Find 'Baked Snake' In Their OvenPexels

As it’s difficult to tell just by looking at them which are potentially deadly, having an app such as Critterpedia handy will be helpful in more ways than one.

And having been created by Australia’s National Science Agency, CSIRO, in collaboration with a pair of local engineers, it’s fair to say we’re in safe hands.

Dr Matt Adcock, project lead and researcher at Data61, CSIRO’s data research arm, said in a statement:

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The visual differences between two species can sometimes be quite subtle, and so a great deal of training data is needed to adequately identify critters.

We’ve started off with an enormous amount of images sourced from zoological experts collaborating with Critterpedia, and have developed a suite of tools to help semi-automatically label these images, verify the information, and cross check with other data sources.

critterpedia shazam for spiders and snakescritterpedia shazam for spiders and snakesCSIRO/DATA61

Critterpedia users will also be able to contribute to the app by submitting their own photos to help train the machine learning engine, which will help expand the identification system.

‘The intent is to form (consensual) user generated images into datasets of all animals and to extend our AI training with the team to eventually include many more species,’ said Nic Scarce who, along with partner Murray, came up with the idea for the app.

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The program is yet to be released, although if you like the sound of it you can currently sign up to become a Phase 1 tester – which lets you download a beta version of the app and submit wildlife photos to help train the algorithm.

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]

Lucy Connolly

A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).

Topics: Animals, Australia, Now, Science, Shazam, Snakes, spiders, Technology

Credits

DATA61 Algorithm and 1 other
  1. DATA61 Algorithm

    This AI-powered platform can identify insect and snake species from photo

  2. Critterpedia

    Become one of the first…