Similar to the music-identification app, Shazam, users will be able identify unfamiliar spider and snake species on the spot thanks to an app called Critterpedia.
As renowned travel writer Bill Bryson only half-jokingly notes, there’s a lot of critters out to kill you in Australia.
From Great white sharks and saltwater crocodiles to 170 species of snake and over 2,000 species of spiders, there are plenty deadly creatures on the continent.
Others which make several lists of Australia’s Most Dangerous include the Blue Ringed Octopus, Box jellyfish, the Funnel Web spider, Cone Snails, Stingrays and the Cassowary, a bird which gets up to 2 meters in height.
Of course if you were attacked by a crocodile, shark or a giant bird, it wouldn’t help much to be able to identify the species.
But what if you were bitten by one of the 140 species of land snake and about 32 species of sea snakes in Australia? Of the roughly 170 different types, 100 are venomous. Twelve have the potential to kill you.
For many people, the fear of the unknown is the biggest issue, as there are not actually that many creatures which are deadly.
Now however there is a game-changing app for travelers and outdoors people, thanks to Critterpedia.
Co-founder Murray Scarce and his partner, Nic, derived the idea in 2004 after relatives from London had struggled to identify some Australian species.
The idea was put on hold until 2018 when support from Australia’s National Science Agency, CSIRO, allowed them to make it a reality.
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You will be in safe hands thanks to spider and snake experts
Also on board are an array of spider and snake experts, nature conservationists and wildlife photographers.
These experts, together with end users, will populate the AI-driven app with information.
“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,” explained Matt Adcock, a scientist at Data61, the data research and engineering arm of CSIRO.
User-uploaded images will also contain GPS location information which will assist in compiling location databases.
Once the app is full developed, it will allow users to identify snakes and spiders, and it will offer valuable information on precautions, minimizing risk and first aid or emergency response advice.
As much as the app is designed to help people in emergencies, its also there to try and alleviate the fear of the unknown.
“Critterpedia can create a world where people of all ages, backgrounds and status can appreciate and respect our environment,” Murray Scarce said. “Where we and animals can peacefully coexist.”