When researchers try to count the world’s quickly disappearing population of wild tigers—only about 3,000 are left, at last estimate—the process is usually slow and complicated. Biologists might spend months following tracks or setting up camera traps to snap photos as tigers walk by. In some countries, tigers are poached faster than they can be counted.
A new iPad app takes a different approach. By mining the thousands of tiger photos that are already online, the project will eventually use facial recognition to identify individual tigers and track the global population in real time…
The app, called Wildsense Tigers, pulls tourist photos from sites like Flickr and Instagram, along with photos from biologists’ official camera traps in the wild…
…To sort through all the photos, the researchers are turning to anyone with an iPad. The app is set up like a game: First, someone identifies that she’s actually looking at a real tiger, and then draws a box around the tiger’s face and tags it with location or any other data that can be gleaned from the photo. As all the data is collected, the researchers will use it to finish building an algorithm that will automatically recognize individual tigers.
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