A group of scientists and researchers from the Smithsonian, University of Maryland, and Columbia University is working on an iPhone application that turns budding scientists into valuable research contributors.
The application is still in the early stages of development, but once it's completed, users will be able to snap a picture of a plant and have the app automatically identify it based on the leaf structure. The iPhone app will then automatically send the data to a central database where scientists can use it for plant research.
Initially, the app will work with plants in New York City's Central Park. If all goes well, the project will be expanded throughout the northeastern U.S. The app's research team hasn't yet announced a release date for its product, but there are plenty of other iPhone apps to tide over science geeks in the meantime. The Genetic Decoder lets you input RNA codons and get amino acid information, Uranus uses GPS to give you a guide to the night sky as seen from wherever you're standing, and the Apple Tree Spacing App helps you figure out correct tree spacing based on rootstock, irrigation, soil, and more.