[Update — 23:47 UTC]: A previous version of this article incorrectly suggested that Earth Lens was available on iPhone. A representative has since informed us that Earth Lens is exclusive to iPad. The article has been adjusted to reflect this information.
Microsoft Garage has released a ton of cool projects in its time, some of which have ended up as fully formed products. This time, it’s looking to make a positive impact on the world and produce something that may be a first for tablets.
Called Earth Lens, the solution lets users analyze, detect, and track aerial imagery to aid in a number of different scenarios. Microsoft speaks to use in tracking fishing vessels to support sustainability, looking at natural disaster impact, and, more.
Utilizing Xamarin, it automatically labels and categorizes images, cutting out hundreds or thousands of man-hours. It draws boxes around relevant objects, counts them, allows of data visualization charts, and doesn’t require an internet connection.
As a result, it’s perfect for those responding in the field and open source. The idea is to empower developers to create their own apps that aid workers and more can utilize on the fly to identify problem points and direct efforts.
“In the start of May, our sponsors came to us with an idea that immediately sparked interest among the six of us: an opportunity to leverage AI to help with environmental efforts headed by researchers and conservationists,” explained Michelle Chen, program manager for Earth Lens.
“Our vision for Earth Lens was to use technology and AI to transform the way humanitarian work is conducted. The rise of automated image recognition has empowered humanitarian organizations to triage damage, and prioritized areas that require immediate help.”
According to Microsoft, Earth Lens was created by a team of university students in the Garage Internship Program. It comes with detailed instructions on GitHub, and should work on iPads on iOS 9.0+.