Czech start-up develops new insect-identifying technology

Have you ever tried in vain to identify the pests that are eating your houseplants? A new technology, developed by a Czech start-up, could make it easier. It can classify over six thousand insects using Artificial Intelligence. All you need to do is take a picture with your mobile phone and upload it to the website.

The Czech start-up, called FlowerChecker, has already developed a successful plant identification technology, as well as a mobile app for gardeners and plant enthusiasts, which can identify around 30 million different plant species.

Now, they have decided to use the same technology to recognize insects. Ondřej Veselý is one of the people behind the project:

“It is something we have been asked to do many times by our clients. It is not only plant species they need to identify. Since they look after plants, they also need to identify pests and other insects and spiders. This created space for a new product.”

Photo: Jolana Nováková,  Czech Radio

Unlike the previous app, where the plants were all identified by real-life botanists, the new insect recognizing technology is based solely on deep machine learning, explains Ondřej Veselý:

“It is a technology which allows our clients to integrate the insect identification service into their own mobile apps. What you can actually expect is that there will be a number of new mobile applications this year which will allow people to identify insects.

“This business model is called B2B2C, which means that we provide the service to businesses, which develop the mobile app and then they offer it to the end users.”

All it takes to identify the particular insect is taking a photo with a mobile app which integrates the new technology, explains Mr. Veselý:

“The photo then goes directly to our servers, where the machine learning systems are running. The deep learning technology that we are using decides which species it is. Than we attach some useful information to the response, for example Wikipedia link or a representative photo of the identified species, and then we send it back to the mobile app, which shows it to the end user.”

Photo: Jolana Nováková,  Czech Radio, which is currently running in a beta version, can recognize exactly 6,387 different categories of insects, including the most common types of butterflies, spiders or centipedes, says Mr. Veselý:

“We can now recognize 6,387 different categories of insects. There are of course many more species of insects in the world, but we have spent a lot of time selecting those categories which you can stumble upon in your house or garden. Our main focus is Europe and America, but we want to extend the service so that it can be used all over the world. That’s our goal.”