• PlantSnap

it’s a (rather heavy) client of a remote expert system. the 24Mbytes app lets you take pics, send them for identification, show the results, or in order of likeliness. we tested it with Mangifera indica, Coffea arabica, Cecropia peltata, and Persea americana. after the time needed to send the high resolution pictures to the server, we had one correct first choice for Mangifera indica (second option Pachira aquatica), correct second result for Coffea arabica (first choice: Olea dioica), and two timeouts. we repeated the identification request for the same coffee picture after three minutes, and this time the right result came as first option.

after every third query, the software demands that you watch at least some advertisement videos, surely it’s referring to the ones we have clicked away: currently our network connecion is very narrow, so we thought we would continue some other time.

are we impressed? not really, but neither do we definitively advise against PlantSnap. it’s heavy, it heavily relies on a fast internet connection.

in fact, my main perplexity is about knowledge ownership: the PlantSnap client lets you send pictures to the server, the remote expert system, and you may suggest identifications. this is information you voluteer, information that goes into the knowledge base in the server, and which contributes to increase the database value that the user community is paying for.

post hoc ergo propter hoc. the phone we used for our evaluation got stuck on internet access, music playback, and just plain froze, something it doesn’t generally do. all went back to fine after we removed PlantSnap. maybe just a coincidence. so we won’t evaluate it any further.

  • PictureThis

also a (rather heavy, 14MByte) client, it has a shortish timeout, that prevents us from sending in pictures using our narrow 15kb/s.

once at a faster network connection, we tested PictureThis using precisely the same pics we took with PlantSnap. also PictureThis correctly identified our Mango and Coffee, and not the other plants.

one remark from Seralia, our botanist, was while taking the picture of the mistery Piperacea: “don’t take just the leaves, you need to show the nodes, and you need show that leaves are alternating.” well, the software at PictureThis offered as possible match for this Piperacea several plant species with very similar leaves, but opposite, not alternate, and regardless the shape of the nodes.

better than PlantSnap? PlantSnap didn’t manage to propose anything. but yes, better: PictureThis is 40% lighter than PlantSnap and did not freeze the phone.

one more bright side of this one, it feels like a collaborative platform, and not one where your efforts are greedily monetized by others, as was my feeling with PlantSnap. somehow also PictureThis is a commercial enterprise, but not in an invasive way.

we didn’t check the copyright status of the data you provide, do you keep ownership and agree on a license, or you just provide the information and PictureThis becomes its owner? we ask this question, because depending on the answer, you know whether you are participating to a community, or you’re putting value into a company.

  • PlantNet

we put PlantNet in the crosshairs after we realized that both PictureThis and PlantSnap were but a client of a remote expert system. we really intended to test Android apps that you could run on your phone while deep in the bushes, we’re not insterested in a client-server interaction based on a reliable internet connection, even less a broadband connection.

PlantNet comes as both on-line expert system and as remote server of a installable client. The client is less than 4Mbytes, that’s 85% lighter than PlantSnap and more than 70% lighter than PictureThis.

plantnet.org is part of Floris’Tic, a non commercial organization, based in France, sponsored by several French scientific public institutions, and endorsed by tela-botanica, the largest French-speaking botanic community.

anyhow, we hope to review PlantNet soon, in the meanwhile check it for yourself, at https://identify.plantnet-project.org/