The transformative power of the CSIRO Kick-Start program
‘Is it venomous?’ is arguably one of the most common questions asked in Australia, home to 170 species of snakes and 2,000 species of spider. Knowing your critters is a necessity – and thanks to Australian start-up Critterpedia, ‘shazam for animals’ is on the horizon.
Critterpedia was born out of the personal experience of Nic and Murray Scarce, a Queensland couple who frequently entertained British relatives in Australia. “During one of her trips to Australia, my mother-in-law acted as a magnet for all our country’s big-name snakes, spiders, and insects. The questions relating to their identification and danger levels were relentless, and the fact we didn’t have all the answers simply exacerbated the situation” jokes Murray.
Their encounters with Australia’s most notorious wildlife led them on a mission to create an instant creature identification app. This platform will enable the user to take a photo of an animal using any smart device, before a trained algorithmic system swiftly classifies it, providing instant information on its family, genus, or species.
A collaboration with CSIRO’s Data61 has paved the way for ground-breaking technology and data science integration in Critterpedia. This led to the construction of a machine learning engine for automated species identification system. To ensure accuracy, hundreds of thousands of images of snakes and spiders were meticulously fed into the system, establishing a comprehensive database of Australia’s diverse critters.
As the business grows and acquires a larger user base, their collection of animal images and other relevant data will enable the algorithm to develop the ability to identify a greater variety of animals. This synergy has been instrumental in the apps development and its potential to make a significant impact.
Critterpedia is positioned as ‘The Ultimate Adventure Companion,’ aiming to redefine outdoor experiences. Their team plans to take Critterpedia’s AI to new heights, enhancing its capabilities, and unlocking even more thrilling possibilities.
Critterpedia was connected to Data61 researchers through the CSIRO Kick-Start program, which supports start-ups and small businesses to access research expertise, solve problems and provide dollar-matched funding for projects. Kick-Start has supported over 200 Australian start-ups and small businesses to access the research and development they need to grow and develop their business.