The National Science Foundation is working on a plant identification guide for the iPhone and other portables, reports the Times:
The field guide, now in prototype for iPhones and other portable devices, has been tested at three sites in the northeastern United States, including Plummers Island in Maryland and Central Park in New York, said W. John Kress, a research botanist and curator at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, who is also on the research team. The computer program compares the leaf snapshot to a library of leaf images.
"We believe there is enough information in a single leaf to identify a species," he said. "Our brains can't remember all of these characteristics, but the computer can."
I want this yesterday. Many of the plants in Oregon are new to me, and I often forget to snap a picture of them for lookup later when I'm stumped. Chris Coldewey nails the sci-fi reference: this is fundamental tricorder stuff.