Fight against weeds goes hi-tech

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MIL OSI – Source: University of Otago – Fight against weeds goes hi-tech: WWF-New Zealand partners with University of Otago to develop iPhone app

Monday, 30 March 2015 3:27pm

With Flora Finder – WEED mobile app, users will soon be able to instantly identify problem weed species just by taking photographs using the camera on their smart phones and devices. With weeds in New Zealand costing billions to control and often causing irreversible damage to ecosystems, the University of Otago is bringing the war on weeds into the hi-tech space with help from a Conservation Innovation $5,000 grant from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

Using the leaf shape recognition technology in the Flora Finder mobile application, users will soon be able to instantly identify problem weed species just by taking photographs using the camera on their smart phones and devices.

Up to 80 of the most common weed species will be included in the app. “We are always looking for new ways to make conservation easier for everyone to participate in. This app caught our attention because it will provide instant ID of our worst weeds and encourage action before they get out of control,” said Michele Frank, Community Conservation Coordinator for WWF.

Targeted at identifying weeds earlier, Flora Finder – WEED solves the problem of users not knowing which weedy plant they are looking at and how to deal with it.

“Even if the app can’t identify the weed, Flora Finder – WEED aims to have the capacity for users to attach unidentified photographs of weeds to an email which could be sent to local experts for identification. In essence Flora Finder – WEED becomes a citizen science application” said Graham Strong, commercialisation manager with Otago Innovation Limited.

With $5,000 in support from the WWF combined with the technical expertise of the Flora Finder partners (Otago Innovation Ltd, the University of Otago Botany Department, and MEA mobile), Flora Finder – WEED is expected to be available to the public by October 2015.

Graham StrongOtago Innovation LimitedEmail: graham.strong@otagoinnovation.com Rosa Argent WWF-New ZealandMob: 027 212 3103 About Otago Innovation Limited Otago Innovation Limited is the technology transfer office of the University of Otago, Dunedin, NZ.

They help University of Otago Research Researchers get their big ideas out there. The team has over 56 years of combined experience, is stable, highly experienced and has a strong reputation and track record for delivering outcomes.

They look at all sorts of ideas – products, services, mobile apps, medical devices, novel therapies, ebooks and diagnostics just to name a few. About WWF WWF is one of the world’s largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries.

WWF’s mission is to stop the degradation of the earth’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world’s biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.

About Botany Department University of Otago The Department of Botany at the University of Otago, Dunedin, NZ is the oldest and only Botany Department in a university in NZ.

And over the last 90 years has produced famous NZ Botanists like Professor Geoff Baylis and Sir Professor Alan Mark. Of special note, is renowned 19th century artist Mr John Buchanan.

A naturalist botanist, Mr Buchanan was also from the Otago Region and one of the plants in Flora Finder is named after him.

About MEA MEA Mobile has been building apps since before there was even an app store, creating mobile solutions which are beautifully designed, tested and developed to work seamlessly in your life.

MEA has developed and released over 200 apps with millions of downloads and is local, with offices in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and New Haven, Connecticut.

They are a full service digital agency with specialists in branding, marketing, video and digital services. A list of Otago experts available for media comment is available elsewhere on this website.

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Selwyn Manning, BCS (Hons.) MCS (Hons.) is an investigative political journalist with 23 years media experience. He specializes in reportage and analysis of socioeconomics, politics, foreign affairs, and security/intelligence issues. Selwyn has extensive experience as a commentator and has provided live political analysis to a wide range of television and radio organizations broadcasting in New Zealand, Australia and globally including the BBC (Five Live, London) and BBC (World Service). He is currently a correspondent to Australia's FiveAA radio, and is a regular live-on-air panelist on Radio New Zealand's The Panel with broadcaster Jim Mora.

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