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The Planet

You Can Help Track Tigers Around the World With This App

by Tasbeeh Herwees

March 18, 2015

British researchers have rolled out a new iPad app that will help them count and monitor tigers around the world by turning the process into a game anyone can play. The app, called Wildsense, asks players to identify and tag photos of tigers from around the web and taken from camera traps placed throughout the U.K. and India. The game helps integrate the efficiency of computer algorithms—which sift through the information and images—with the more discriminating judgement of human intellect.

The app essentially mobilizes players—any interested person with an iPad—to help the researchers sift through the vast and overwhelming volume of data available to them through the web. The algorithm picks up any photos associated with the word “tiger”, searching through professional photographs, vacation photos,and news images and systematically identifying the tigers they find.

"People can interact with the photos and provide more context," said Aaron Mason, one of the computer scientists working on the project, to the BBC.

The team of computer scientists hopes to eventually run the images through facial recognition software, which would then help them identify individual tigers and count the tiger population. They previously worked on Tiger Nation, a tracking project which used special identification software that recognized the disctinct patterns of each individual tiger’s stripes. 

“We're hoping after the experiment we'll understand better where they come from—is it guides, is it tourists, or is it something else?” said Mason. 

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You Can Help Track Tigers Around the World With This App