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If you've lived in or visited Australia, there's a strong chance you'll have come across a spider or a snake.
While Australia certainly has its fair share of terrifying, deadly and menacing creatures, it's hard to know which ones will actually kill you and which ones couldn't care less about your presence.
That's why Australian researchers have developed an app to help people determine whether their eight-legged or no-legged creature is friend or foe. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia's national science agency, has joined forces with two entrepreneurs to create Critterpedia.
You're familiar with Shazam, the app that will listen to a song and tell you the name and artist after a few seconds? Critterpedia works in much the same way.
You just have to snap a photo of the spider or snake and it will tell you very quickly if you need to run for the hills. It uses AI technology to scan the photo and dig through the digital archives to find the species, family or genus of the creature.
Another crafty method the app uses to determine what you're looking at is GPS technology. Based on where you are, the app will be able to isolate what types of spiders or snakes are usually found in that area, which makes it a hell of a lot easier to determine what species it is.
Dr Matt Adcock, project lead and researcher at Data61, CSIRO's data research arm, said in a statement: "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."
Nic Scarce, along with his partner Murray, came up with the idea for the app after British relatives came over for a visit.
No doubt they were either terrified of what they might find or were shocked when they stumbled across a harmless Huntsman spider and thought it would devour them whole.
Nic says the more people use the app, the stronger it will become in detecting different types of snakes and spiders.
"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," he said.
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