Potential for improving IR (image recognition)?

I don’t know if this has been brought up before, but in case it hasn’t here’s what I have to say about observations I have made using iNaturalist and Fieldguide. Fieldguide has a separate IR page called Leps.Fieldguide . When I use that for identifying moths (utilizing IR), I find it to be far more accurate than iNaturalist, or the regular Fieldguide. My theory is that it is only considering moths and butterflies for its IR analysis, and therefore there are far less options for the IR software to be confused by. When I use iNaturalist’s IR or Fieldguide’s IR for moths, I get much poorer results overall than when I simply use Leps.Fieldguide.
What if iNaturalist offered an option of searching for an ID on the main IR system just like they do now, but also offered more specific search options that only screened your submission by taxon from the same order? I’m guessing that the accuracy of identifications would increase. If you know it’s in Coleoptera (beetles), then you should be able to search using IR only for Coleoptera, for a Hemiptera,(true bugs, etc.)), then only search Hemiptera (true bugs, etc.), for a Hymenoptera(ant/bee/wasp), then only use IR for Hymenoptera. Make sense? Or, is there some other reason that I find Leps.Fieldguide so much more reliable for identifying moths(than either iNaturalist or regular Fieldguide)? If you know it’s a bird, then why force the IR system to scan images of insects, mammals, etc., if that produces less reliable identification results? If (and I do say if) this is a new idea, then could it not be tested?


This is possible on the Identify page, if you go to the Suggestions tab of the pop-up. Choose “Visually similar” for source and you can also restrict by taxon.

It’s also possible on the Computer Vision Demo page: https://www.inaturalist.org/computer_vision_demo

But yes, not possible in the mobile apps or on the upload and observation pages. With the mobile apps, the aim is to keep things as simple as possible and reduce the number of steps between taking a photo and posting it. I’d be interested in seeing if CV restrictions can be added to the upload page on the website.


Edit - what Tony said :-)

It is possible to do this currently, but as far as I know only in Identify. If you open an observation in Identify, click on the suggestion tab, then select “visually similar” it defaults to searching within the current community id taxon. You can easily select a parent taxon instead.

The IR functionally is different in different places which is confusing.


This is an example of a broader issue on iNat: the same capabilities work differently in different interfaces (web site vs. mobile apps, upload vs. identify vs. explore). I do understand that some of this is due to the inherent limitations of mobile devices (smaller screen, reduced/zero connectivity) and some is due to decisions to prioritize simplicity on the mobile platforms.

I’m guessing also that it’s an understandable side-effect of rapid development of various iNat features by a small dev team that doesn’t have the bandwidth to revisit older features and bring them into consistency with newer work.


This difference between “modules” is actually a good thing in some respects. I know some people that prefer to ID from a filtered Explore page, which to me seems a clunky way to do IDs, but I guess they have their reasons. Having different ways to do the same thing, as long as they achieve the same result, is a useful “side-effect”. I think the Explore page is in the sights for a revamp, so differences can be a temporary thing :)


I have to say, I found it hard when first reading the post… I am used to it being called CV (computer vision) or AI (Artifical Intelligence or Automatic Identifications depending on who you talk to), but never heard it referred to as IR before. When reading it, I kept interpreting it as “Infra-Red” and it confused me!

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Thanks for the feedback! Being a relative newbie, I wasn’t aware that you could make that selection when ID’ing. Hopefully others who also did not know that will read this and realize that it can make a difference in producing a more accurate ID . . . limiting the range of photos that will be searched. Looking forward to trying that and seeing what kind of results I get.


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