“May I just say it cracks me up to walk into your office and see a picture of an iPhone with the word WEED! sketched on it?”
— A colleague
While weeding the garden (a garden I did not plant) I kept asking myself, “Is that a weed or a plant? There’s GOT to be an app for that.”
But to my surprise, there wasn’t. Or maybe I just wasn’t talented enough to find it when I searched the Apple iTunes App Store.
(I did get a LOT of apps related to weed – but not the kind of weed I was interested in.)
Surely there’s some company out there…I dunno…Scotts, even Lowe’s, or some other big weed killer company developing an app that allows you to take a picture of a plant and using something like facial recognition software to tell you what the plant is and whether or not it’s a weed. Something that says, “Keep it!” if it’s a plant, or “Pull it!” if it’s a weed.
I tried sketching out an iPhone app for the first time. Nothing fancy. I wasn’t going to spend serious time on this. And I quickly discovered what I knew was true all along – the interaction on the phone is tricky, tricky, tricky! But that’s what made it fun too.
I started looking at different weed identification sites for a reality check.
You need to be a botanist or master gardener to develop this app!
Simply having someone enter their zip code to determine geography, season, etc. is probably not enough to identify a weed. You’ve got to consider different stages of growth and development too.
So I scratched (wait for the foreshadowing!) my grand plans for a “Keep it? Pull it?” weeding app and took the suggestion of my colleagues:
The question most asked at my house, “Is this poison ivy (or poison oak)?”
Brilliant. And probably less tricky to create?
In the meantime, I’ve learned there is a team of smart people (a.k.a. researchers) developing the LeafSnap App. It’s limited to tree species in the Northeast at the moment, but I hope they expand it over time. Right now you can download the iPhone app for free! iPad and Android versions are “coming soon” according to the site.
LeafSnap is exciting because it gives me hope that my dreams of a “Keep It? Pull It!” app and a “Leaves of three leave them be?” app are not too far off.