Facial recognition technology could identify red tide in advance

Reporter: Anika Henanger
Published: Updated:

You use it to unlock your smartphone. Now, researchers are using facial recognition technology to test our waters for red tide. But, to pull it off, they need your help.

It was everywhere – cloudy water, dead fish, coughing. However, red tide is hard to predict.

Now, scientists said you plus facial recognition technology could help unlock the most accurate red tide prediction tool. It is happening on Sanibel Island.

Volunteers for the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation will hit Sanibel’s beaches with a checklist. They will dive in deep for a water sample, then back to the lab. For the HAB Scope, which is three drops, then the smartphone, trained to recognize red tide, takes over.

“In the same way it recognizes your eyes and your nose as being you,” said Eric Milbrandt, director of Marine Lab at SCCF, “it takes that same technology and applies it to swimming behavior and it can count the number of cells.

Within seconds, the video uploads to scientists at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who will review the data and plug it into a map. Soon, Sanibel Island will not rely on only the wind to predict where and when red tide may hit.

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