Apps also an aid in gardens
RODOLFO ROMANApps for smart phones have made our lives a lot easier. Head over to the Apple iTunes store and click on the appropriate app that will help find the destination you've been searching for.
Published: January 30, 2013
Published: January 30, 2013
To kill time, play the highly downloaded and popular app game Angry Birds.
But, now, apps aren't only for navigating or to find the nearest deal around your area, but it can help you identify a plant.
The Department of Environmental Horticulture, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, University of Florida, launched the FloraGator, an online plant identification website available as a mobile app. The app is free.
Sandra B. Wilson, a UF professor, Department of Environmental Horticulture Indian River Research and Education Center, said apps are the wave of the future.
"We looked at this as almost a foreign language exercise, where you have to commit to really immersing yourself in the terms," she said in a press release.
Users must know specific details about the plant so the system can identify the species. It can express details in technical terms.
This is how the app works: it uses a ternary system that allows it to record the difference within each plant. A news release states, "For each of the 220 features listed in the key, the database records either a 0 for "absent," a 1 for "rare," or a 2 for "common."
The app took two years to develop and cost more than $10,000 to create. For now, the app is available for iPhone users, so it can be downloaded on Apple iTunes or interested users can visit hort.ifas.ufl.edu/floragator.
The website and app can identify 196 angiosperm families, each with up to 220 botanical characters and includes all of the plant families found in the Sunshine State.
The system assists users with drop-down menus. Users can specify details about the plant's appearance. All they have to do is answer multiple-choice questions. It will then rule out plant families unable to meet the criteria and breaks down the list of possibilities.
Apps are making it easy for gardeners, said Wilson.
"There are lots of cool apps out now," she wrote in an e-mail. "Like I-pest, leafsnap, etc. on-site content to help them know what they are planting and why."
One of Wilson's doctoral students and Luke Flory, a UF agronomy assistant professor, assisted with the app.
The app is not only useful for serious gardeners, but it can come in handy to ornamental horticulture professionals, high school and college instructors.
To keep the app fresh, it is being updated often. Vocabulary is optimized and other kinks based on user feedback.
FloraGator is just one of many apps available. Paris-based Parrot developed Flower Power, a plant sensor designed to update your mobile device with information. The system also offers information on the health of a plant and the area it resides in.
Another popular avaliable app is Garden Tracker, which helps users set up their garden from head-to-toe. It then allows you to track the progress.