Seth McKee’s Prairie Plant Companion app increases speed and accuracy for plant identification in the field

Go to https://nomenproject.org/webclient/#dataset and select “Plants” to use Seth’s digital plant ID tool!

Working with Seth McGee in BioCore program during Fall 2013, MLI, now Field Day Lab, developed and evaluated a mobile app for identifying prairie plants. We empirically investigated how mobile devices effect novice learners’ plant identification process compared to traditional field guide methods. We found that students using this app were significantly more efficient and more accurate in the plant identification activity than their counterparts using field guides.

By leveraging human skills at visual pattern recognition, and computing’s ability to sort and filter, this work has been foundational in developing a more general field research tool for all sorts of identification and assessment activities.

Field Day is currently working to build a spreadsheet-driven platform called the Nomen Project. In Nomen, any faculty or student can apply it to their own identification and assessment problems and quickly and inexpensively create their own tool. Nomen is currently a functional prototype waiting for development. Go to nomenproject.org and start building your own field ID tool! This work will be foundational in developing a more general field research tool where any faculty or student can quickly and inexpensively create their own tool.

The App

Use the ID tool: Go to https://nomenproject.org/webclient/#dataset and select “Plants” to use Seth’s digital plant ID tool!

iOS Source Code: https://github.com/UWMLI/FieldResearchTool

Key Findings

  • The mobile app increased the accuracy and efficiency of plant identification of novice users in comparison to the traditional field guide
  • Having students work in pars and having each member of the team have a resource (app or field guide) increases the amount of communication which may increase learning

Credits

Seth McGee — Biocore Instructor, Subject Expert
David Gagnon — Producer, Designer, Co-Researcher
Breanne Litts — Lead Researcher
John Martin — Co-Researcher, Co-Designer
Justin Moeller — Developer
Nick Heidl — Developer
Phil Dougherty — Developer
Casey Shmoeger — Biocore Student Assistant
Nick Dykstra — Biocore Student Assistant
Sarah Tilton — Biocore Student Assistant