Foraging Phone App [brainstorming]

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Foraging Phone App [brainstorming]

Postby ejb » Mon Dec 31, 2012 11:33 pm

Greetings,

I'm new to these forums and relatively new to foraging - I've been slowly learning to identify wild mushrooms and plan on branching out to plants this spring. So far I can confidently ID chantrelles, black trumpets, chaga, morels, and a handful of the poisonous ones. This summer I stumbled across what I believe to be a rare "Orchard's Tooth" in Maine... pretty cool looking shroom (see photos)! Photo 1: http://oi48.tinypic.com/1z4v42e.jpg Photo 2: http://oi47.tinypic.com/2e2gd35.jpg

Anyway, the topic of this post is not mushrooms, it is to get some opinions about a phone app that I'm thinking about building. My day job is freelance software developement and I'm always looking for ways to combine my work and my hobbies. This app could be one way!

The basic idea that I have is to build a phone app that will help forager's document specimens in the field. For example, the app could allow the user to take photos, record notes, name, and tag the location (using gps) of specimens. The app would archive these records and provide a slick UI to quickly search past entries.

This idea is in it's early stages and I'm really looking to gauge interest. So what do you think?
Would you use something like this?
What kind of features would you like to see in an app like this?

Thanks for your time,
Elliot
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Re: Foraging Phone App [brainstorming]

Postby Skippy » Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:48 pm

I don't use apps or even have a phone that can take them but I could see a small potential for such a thing. I shouldn't think you will be able to retire on the profits from it but at least you'll be able to say you've done more good than all those dancing elf type of apps .
As to what features then I suppose as much detail as possible about any plant , including habitat , leaf shape, fruits, flowers , colours etc etc and a way of cross referencing . For example if I found a bush with say black coloured berries on it I should be able to bring up all with black berries and then start eliminating species by leaf shape and so on , pretty much in the same way as one would use a book. Several photographs of each plant is I always find a great help with identification and don't forget to put in a disclaimer telling users that this is only for "identification" and not so they can eat the plant, we've all heard the legal claims that go on over your side of the pond.


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Re: Foraging Phone App [brainstorming]

Postby ejb » Tue Jan 01, 2013 9:25 pm

Skippy wrote:I shouldn't think you will be able to retire on the profits from it but at least you'll be able to say you've done more good than all those dancing elf type of apps .
As to what features then I suppose as much detail as possible about any plant , including habitat , leaf shape, fruits, flowers , colours etc etc and a way of cross referencing.

Pete


I don't think I'll be retiring on it either... it might just be a donation based app.
The app I have in mind wouldn't include reference material... it would just be a tool for archiving specimens found while out foraging. You could take photos, enter notes, tag the location, etc. All that information would go into an archive that you could later browse or search.

Thanks for your comments
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Re: Foraging Phone App [brainstorming]

Postby Skippy » Tue Jan 01, 2013 9:35 pm

ejb wrote:The app I have in mind wouldn't include reference material... it would just be a tool for archiving specimens found while out foraging. You could take photos, enter notes, tag the location, etc. All that information would go into an archive that you could later browse or search.

To be honest then I don't really see it as much use .
a friend and I were once asked when was the right time to pick a mushroom or cut a branch for a walking stick or pick some berries or whatever and the answer my friend came out with was "when you find them". Moral of that story so to speak is identification in the wild would be of much greater advantage than an app to record because surely you could just use the camera phone and check it out when you get home.

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Re: Foraging Phone App [brainstorming]

Postby MKG » Wed Jan 02, 2013 2:33 am

Hmmm ... this one got me thinking for a while.

An app like that isn't going to be of any great deal of use to a seasoned forager, but it WOULD, I think, be quite useful for someone just starting out. The ideal, of course, would be to start out by going along with a seasoned forager, but that's not always going to be the case. So yes, an app which integrates photography and good record-keeping could be a useful tool and could encourage safe foraging. It's certainly going to be a sight lighter than a full-blown camera and notebook.

For goodness sake, though, don't offer ANY kind of identification. The legal ramifications of that are horrendous.

I'd say give it a go, ejb. You're not going to spend a lot of money in the design stage and you'll soon find out if there are going to be any difficulties which might be stoppers. Let us know how you're getting on.

Mike
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Re: Foraging Phone App [brainstorming]

Postby Zech » Wed Jan 02, 2013 10:48 am

It would be a good way of building up a database. Would it be integrated with other foragers' records, too?

On the other hand, people would actually want to use it for identification, especially if they could see other people's records as well. As Mike says, you really don't want to go there.

If it's only your own records you can see, and there's no ID element, I'm wondering what it adds to a notebook. I suppose the photo is the main thing, and a structure for the record. Hmm, maybe. I'm probably not the best person to ask, as I'm not very systematic, and I don't use smart phone apps.

I guess the main problem you'll encounter is that people really want help identifying their finds, and will assume that's what you're offering, then be disappointed when they find out it's something else.
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Re: Foraging Phone App [brainstorming]

Postby GeorgeSalt » Wed Jan 02, 2013 12:06 pm

What you're competing against is someone that goes out, finds plants, photographs them(with GPS enabled camera or phonecamera), collects samples (leaves, fruit), returns and spends an evening with the reference books and websites before writing it all up in their notes or on their blog. Phone screens are a pain for typing field notes (in the cold, wet, wearing gloves) - if I need to do that when out and about I usually make a voice memo.

What might be useful is if the app could be used to develop foraging maps - at the moment I use Google Maps which is a little clunky for including photographs, notes and updates on foraging patches.
Curently collecting recipes for The Little Book of Liqueurs..
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Re: Foraging Phone App [brainstorming]

Postby Jessiebean » Fri Feb 22, 2013 11:21 pm

I am just Googling for a foraging App for my low level Android phone so would be interested to know how this is going. Plant identification is the main thing, and key features of fungus, we have so many yellow stainers around here but they look and smell great before the yellow shows!) a feature allowing you to mark on the map where good spots are and something to let you know what might grow in certain areas (ie near water, with nettles etc) would be good!
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