ButterflyNet: A Mobile Capture and Access System for Field Biology

Uploaded by StanfordHCI on 21.08.2009

This video describes Butterfly Net, a mobile capture and access system for field biology
research. Field biologist rely on their notebooks as the primary record of plants, observations,
measurements and results.
Paper notebooks are excellent for this task as they are robust, lightweight, high resolution,
readable outdoors and easy to browse.
In addition to paper notebooks, biologists use photographs and environmental sensors
to record both experimental data and the general context and setting for a field site. Through
a study of field biology practices, we observed that biology fieldwork generates a wealth
of qualitative and quantitative information, requiring substantial labor to coordinate
and distill These observations motivated Butterfly Net, a system integrating field researchers'
paper notes with information explicitly captured for ambiently available field sites including
digital camera photographs, sensor network data and GPS Logs.
ButerflyNet provides three field techniques for correlating these digital media with paper
notes. In the following examples, we demonstrate how a biologist can integrate digital photographs
into his notes.
First, Butterfly Net automatically correlates notes with photographs with time stamp information.
The biologist takes notes with his digital pen and captures photographs with this digital
camera. When he returns to the lab, he can browse trough the automatically associated
media with the Butterfly Net browser. Through the second technique, hotspot linking, a biologist
can specify where in his notes a digital photograph should appear.
The biologist uses the camera to capture a new photograph, or browse to a photo he has
taken before. Once a photograph is on screen the biologist can create a hotspot gesture
into his notebook.
Upon returning to the lab the photograph will be rendered in his notes in the same place
that he created that hotspot gesture.
The third technique it's called the visual specimen tags. With a visual specimen tag,
the biologist can link a physical specimen to its photograph and handwritten annotations.
The biologist places a tagged coin envelope on the ground and places the specimen of interest
near the 2-D bar code. He takes a photograph of it, drops the specimen in the coin envelope,
and writes an annotation on the envelope. These three pieces of data are forever linked
in the Butterfly Net system.
Back at the lab, a biologist can navigate and visualize his research content in the
Butterfly Net browser. While navigating notes using the hi-bred physical-digital interface,
related data such as photos, sensor readings and GPS logs appear in a context panel. Butterfly
Net's integrated interactions facilitate the transfer of this heterogeneous content to
analysis tools such as spreadsheets. In the digital notes browser, a biologist can simply
select some quantitative, tabular data, and send it to the multimedia spreadsheet. The
multimedia spreadsheet appears with a floating window containing the digital ink.
This window contains a guide to aid in manual transcription of the data.
As a biologist navigates through different rows and columns, the window and data entry
guide will adjust to help the biologist keep track of which line of data he is currently
The multimedia's spreadsheet also aids in quick import of photographs from the ButterflyNet
browser through a context sensitive right click menu.
A first-use study of ButterflyNet with 14 biologists found the system to offer richer
capture with minimal overhead, in a manner felicitous with current practice.