eMammal Lite

A publicly available web application and Hunt Library video wall exhibit that allows users to explore and identify animals captured in over 4,000 camera trap images from research projects around the world. eMammal lite was decommissioned in February 2022.

Overview

eMammal Lite is a web application that provided a fun and engaging way to explore over 4,000 candid images of wildlife from around the world and participate in camera trapping and animal identification methods used by ecological researchers. Each image in this collection helps scientists and conservationists document wildlife that may otherwise go unseen and while taking a photo with a camera trap is easily done with modern photography hardware, it is up to a human to provide the actual identification of what tripped the camera. It takes a lot of time and effort for researchers to analyze and identify each photo from a project. eMammal Lite asks the user to help out by identifying, or tagging, animals captured in camera trap photos. The application also provided a photo archive to explore the entire collection of images and data and a stats page that allowed users to compare their identification abilities with others.

Since its launch in the winter of 2016 until it was shut down in winter 2022 the eMammal Lite application saw over 11,000 users tag nearly 367,544 animals. In addition to the publicly available application, eMammal Lite also existed as an exhibit in the Hunt Library iPearl Immersion Theater. This installation combined user tagging statistics, project information, and high resolution images to create an engaging exploration of the eMammal Lite photo collection. Visitors to this exhibit could view a selection of camera trap photos from each research project accompanied by information about the project and tagging stats on each photo to get an idea of which animals are the hardest to identify. In addition to the photo gallery, visitors could also track user accuracy statistics, the most popular tagged animals, and compete to make it on the top five tagger board.

How We Did It

We compiled a database of camera trap images and associated metadata provided by researchers from the larger eMammal camera trapping project—a tool for collecting, archiving, and sharing camera trapping images and data. With the imagery and data supplied by this database we created two interfaces for users to 1) identify animals in a flashcard-like game and 2) view, explore, and search the entire collection of images. User-generated data collected from the gaming interface is used to create a stats interface for users to explore user-generated statistics such as personal and global identification accuracy and score.

This application was built using the Ruby on Rails framework and utilizes responsive web design techniques to provide a seamless, unified experience across mobile and desktop devices. Graphic assets and page layouts were designed by former NCSU Libraries Graphic Designer student employee Maris Hall.

Animal tagging interface on tablet device
Animal tagging interface on tablet device

 

User-generated statistics interface on desktop device
User-generated statistics interface on desktop device

 

Photo archive interface on mobile device
Photo archive interface on mobile device

 

Team

  • Staff profile photo
    Walt Gurley
    Former Data Visualization Analyst
  • Staff profile photo
    Maris Hall
    Graphic Designer