Is it just me or am I the only one who wants to know the name and characteristics of certain creatures or plants that cross my path on occasion? Usually, it feels hopeless trying to look it up in a book or on the internet because we have no idea where to start.
Think about it; imagine a world where ALL the knowledge about our surroundings could be at our fingertips – and not just a Wikipedia entry that hasn't been validated yet. I know a few birdwatchers who spotted a fabulous fowl of some sort that they didn’t recognise and had to wait until they got to their bird books or the internet at home to identify what they saw.
Now, imagine a world where we could use your camera-phone to identify these species and all their different pals – this is the world I want to live in!
I'm sure we can agree, we have all failed on more than one occasion to describe something we saw that intrigued us but didn’t know the name. We've all Googled something like: 'Purple flower with fuzzy leaves' and, after 20 minutes, realised the image of the flower we're looking at was only found in the north-east of Réunion Island near Mauritius, 2000-years ago.
If only identifying that African Violet – which was the answer to your Google search, btw – was as simple as taking a snap of the subject.
Well, fear not, your troubles could soon be over.
It's only the beginning but, researchers at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, have created an innovative technology for your smartphone that can carry out a range of tasks – such as recognising the surface it is sitting on – using just its camera.
SpeCam is a program that uses a smartphone's camera as a Spectroscopy scanner to recognise different materials, essentially 'understanding' what type of surface it's been placed on.
At the moment, its abilities are limited to identifying surface materials but, with more development, the possibilities are endless.
If you have a camera phone, the SpeCam system could be enabled through a software update or application download. Hang in there, endless knowledge is on its way.