Australia Finally Has A Shazam For Creepy Crawlies

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Chances are if you live in Australia, you've had more than your share of encounters with spiders, snakes, and other creepy little critters. 

In a country that's home to 170 species of snakes and 2000 kinds of spider, it's inevitable there'll be at least one moment in your life where you wondered if you were about to die an agonising death or possibly become the next Spider-Man. 

For years, there's just one thing Aussies have been asking for... 


And the day has finally arrived! 

Critterpedia is the result of a collaboration between Australia's national science agency CSIRO's Data61  and entrepreneurs, Nic and Murray Scare.

The platform will enable users to submit photos of a snake or spider from any smart device. A trained algorithmic system then classifies the image, providing information on the family, genus or species. The algorithm also takes into consideration additional factors, such as GPS location.

Project lead and Data61 researcher Dr Matt Adcock explained: 

“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."

Users can also choose to submit their photos to the system to further train the machine learning engine.

Critterpedia aims to provide better education and awareness for Australians, and could ultimately save human and animal lives. Murray stated:

“Educating people on our wildlife in a fun, and interactive way, especially focussing on our venomous friends, and delving into the reasons as to why people harbour so many fears, is the key to delivering a platform that can really make a difference to peoples’ lives.

“Critterpedia can create a world where people of all ages, backgrounds and status can appreciate and respect our environment, and where we and animals can peacefully coexist.”

Although the app is still in testing phases, you can sign up now to be a Phase 1 tester of the beta version, which allows you to submit photos to train the algorithm, here.

Ebony Reeves

10 August 2020

Article by:

Ebony Reeves

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