July 29, 2014

Reference Apps: UCSD Creates iPad App for Birders Named Visipedia

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From the San Diego Union-Tribune:

UC San Diego has developed a visual encyclopedia called Visipedia that’s initially meant to help birders to identify upwards of 500 species of North American birds. But it’s unclear whether this future iPad app is likely to become a hit. In an odd move, the UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering announced Visipedia before it has become available as a download from the App Store.

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Visipedia is basically an interactive search engine and field guide. The app was primarily developed by UCSD computer scientist-engineer Serge Belongie, who gave me a demonstration of Visipedia in his office last year. Gotta’ say, it was pretty impressive. Users upload images of birds, then the app tries to identify them.

See Also: Official News Release from UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is contributing its database of images showing the male, female and juveniles of more than 500 North American species. Citizen scientists working with the laboratory will label the images and expand the database further. The ultimate goal is to have 100 images identified by experts for each species.

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The app’s user interface was designed by computer science undergraduate student Grant Van Horn. Its search system is the work of computer science graduate students Catherine Wah and Steven Branson in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the Jacobs School. Belongie has applied for a grant that would allow him to hire a developer, who could package the app’s code for other tablets and smart phones and maintain it. That’s what it will take to get it in the App Store, the researcher explained. Meanwhile, a demo version of the app is available upon request via http://visipedia.org.

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Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.