VegSense makes sense for forest studies

VegSense makes sense for forest studies

The open-source VegSense app from Rice University allows researchers to collect field data on hidden vegetation as they walk and look at vegetation using Microsoft’s HoloLens headset. This split-screen image shows what VegSense creator Daniel Gorczynski sees through a headset (top) as he walks and looks at the vegetation under the trees on the Rice Campus (bottom). Credit: Brandon Martin/Rice University

Rice researchers created Microsoft HoloLens as a mixed reality sensor to feed the VegSense, and their app measures vegetation cover, the plant life that grows between the forest canopy and the ground.

A proof-of-concept study by graduate student Daniel Gorzinski and biologist Lydia Bodrot shows that VegSense could be a convenient alternative to traditional classic field measurements at a low cost.

their studies in Methods in ecology and evolution It shows that the combination of hardware and software excels in determining the amount of relatively mature trees in the wild, which is one measure of a forest’s overall health.

Gorczynski came up with the idea to try the HoloLens, commonly marketed as a productivity tool for manufacturing, healthcare and education. He developed open source software for the device and noted that while the kit is less effective at picking seedlings and young branches, there is plenty of room for improvement.

Gorczynski said he was introduced to mixed reality sensing when he was an undergraduate at Vanderbilt University and realized its potential in biological studies. “It kind of looked like a normal fit,” he said. Gorczynski brought the idea to Peudro in 2019 shortly after he reached out to Rice.

said Gorczynski, who developed VegSense on a platform geared more toward 3D games and interactive experiences than hard science.

Credit: Rice University

Field tests in Houston’s Memorial Park have shown that, at least for mature trees, a smaller solution is just as good. In their case study, VegSense easily detected 48 of 50 of these trees in the target area, a circle about 30 feet in diameter that Gorczynski walks, looking up, down, and around to build a 3D database. (“Imagine an asterisk with a circle around it,” he said, describing the pattern of data capture.)

“For this study, we wanted to be really intentional in trying to replicate more traditional measurements of vegetation structure,” Gorczynski said. “We’ve tried to get that level of detail.”

What he sees as he scans the environment is a holographic-like grid pattern that traces the surfaces of vegetation. “The really cool thing about it is that you can see what the scanner picks up, but also the points you missed,” Gorczynski said. “The idea is to get the mesh to cover as much vegetation as possible because that’s what gives you the best scanning.”

VegSense makes sense for forest studies

Rice University’s open-source VegSense app for the Microsoft HoloLens headset allows researchers to record data about vegetation they see as they roam a field site and create downloadable files for later analysis. Credit: Brandon Martin/Rice University

“The results were so remarkable that Dan quickly wrote them down for publication,” Beaudrot said, noting that Gorchinsky expanded the validation process for the equipment during a subsequent field trip to Tanzania, a single focus of 15 tropical forests in a recent rainforest study by the group. Rice.

“This device could facilitate a lot of great environmental research, especially because it is so cost-effective,” she said. “It’s really hard to collect vegetation information on the forest floor right now without a lot of manual work, or a really expensive lidar system.”

“This is a groundbreaking, cost-effective device,” Beaudrot said. “It won’t give you the same accuracy data that LiDAR will provide, but this is only the first application. We hope that making VegSense open source to the environmental research community will stimulate all possible avenues for its development.”

National parks preserve more species

more information:
Daniel Gorczynski et al, Measurement of simple vegetation structure using a new mixed reality device, Methods in ecology and evolution (2022). DOI: 10.1111 / 2041-210X.13927

Presented by Rice University

the quote: VegSense Logical for Forest Studies (2022, August 1) Retrieved August 3, 2022 from

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