Using the power of computer-vision artificial intelligence and millions of observations from amateur taxonomists, Seek can identify plants, animals, fungi, and more—just open your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch camera and, in seconds, find out the name of the organism.
Seek works in real time, even before you’ve snapped a picture. Train your lens on a leaf, say, and watch as its augmented reality view first broadly recognizes its category, like identifying the plant as a dicot. As you move around and to get an angle that more clearly differentiates the plant from other species, you’re rewarded with an exact match.
If you’re not a botanist or zoologist—or maybe even if you are—you’ll be amazed how quickly the unknown world of your backyard comes into focus. What exactly is that weed or wildflower, anyway? Is that snake just a common garter or something more sinister? If you’ve got a clear picture, Seek can likely tell you (just don’t get too close).
Once the app has identified the object and provided both its common and scientific names, you can read a summary, view a map of its range, learn its full taxonomy, and see similar organisms that have been discovered nearby. Seek is great for kids. It’s quick—you don’t even need a login. Your findings aren’t shared with the public. And though the app does use your location to help identify the correct species in your general area, it obscures your exact place. The app is gamified, so the prospect of earning badges might push your children to observe more species. The brains behind Seek created the popular app iNaturalist, a joint project between the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society. Seek uses iNaturalist’s database of over 20 million observations worldwide for identification. The more observations the community collects, the better the app’s automatic identifications, so Seek will get even better over time.