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PlantSpotting. A Conceptual Project.

Hi everyone!

I am a final year Industrial Design student at Brunel University, currently undertaking a brief looking at possible products for the National Geographic in 2030 with the idea of 'Make the reader the explorer'. This has lead me to begin to develop a concept 'PlantSpotting'. A device that can be kept on your person to identify plants/their health etc and communicates with a smart device with the aim of encouraging people to reengage with flora, perhaps through gamification, collection etc.

For more information such as visualisation, research overviews and user scenarios please see the project over at:

To you, if something like this existed how would you like to use it? What would you like it to do or tell you? And how best do you think with technology can we get the general public to get more actively involved in caring and engaging with plants?

Any comments or feedback is greatly appreciated, you guys input could directly effect the direction of this project.


  • CeresCeres Posts: 2,690
    This would be useful on Autumn walks to help identify the fruits in the hedgerows. I would also use it to identify the random plants that are brought by the birds.
  • artjakartjak Posts: 4,167

    Can't get link to work.

  • Serious botanists would be very excited about this idea if it works, particularly where microspecies are involved, like Rubus or Taraxacum. But as Edd says, it would all depend on the database availability. Amazing to think that the technology is nearly there for a handheld genotyping device.

    It would be a real shame if it ended up with the loss of the observational skills that make botany so fascinating, though.

  • Hey everyone thanks for responding,

    Edd - As it stands there are multiple drives to barcode plants. A great example is that of Wales who have already covered their native flowering plants for the 'Barcode Of Life Database'. For more check out the link:

    In theory, the data collected would feed to a National Geographic community platform, possibly with a prompt to record a bit more information about the unidentified plant (maybe a photograph, physical characteristics etc). Bringing the unknown species to the attention to the community armed with this data to better determine its species. This gives the possibility for that species' digital print to be 'tagged' with the name of the person who first discovered it in their area as an encouragement for people to go out and explore for more 'unusual' types.

    landgirl100 - I think thats a great point and there lies a main tipping point for the project focus. To design for the serious user already with interests in botany and try to make it as accessible as possible to general users. Or instead to come from the other direction and take a softer approach aimed at people en masse to encourage them to engage more with plants and make botany/horticulture and even gardening in general more accessible to a wider audience?

    (For example, theoretically the use of a particular type of raman spectronomy rather than the DNA barcode technology in this device would allow the water/nutrient content of a plant to be determined and compared against normal 'healthy' levels, opening the door for people with less experience to successfully care for a wider range of plants). 

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