Ever wondered if the snake or spider you've come across in your backyard or a hike up Mount Ainslie is friendly or a venomous species to be avoided at all cost?
There's now an app for that.
Critterpedia, a collaboration between the CSIRO and Australian entrepreneurs Murray and Nic Scarce, will allow users to take a photo of a snake or spider and identify what species it is, along with other information.
Photos taken by the user will then be run through complex algorithms and artificial intelligence against a large database of images to determine the species of the creature.
While the app is still being developed and tested, it's hoped it will be launched some time in early 2021.
Murray Scarce, one of the chief executives and founders of Critterpedia, said the idea for the app came to him following a visit by his British mother-in-law.
"The idea overseas, of course, is that Australia is home to lots of dangerous creatures, and she was questioning if all the ones we saw were deadly," Mr Scarce said.
"At the time it wasn't easy to find the answers and it was time-consuming, but the experience planted a seed."
Mr Scarce has been collaborating with the CSIRO to help develop the app, which is teaching artificial intelligence to recognise various types of creatures.
Thousands of photos submitted from snake and spider researchers and experts have been entered into the system, which is now being tested.
Dr Matt Adcock, the project leader for the CSIRO's Data 61 unit, said lots of work was happening behind the scenes to ensure the app's accuracy.
"For an artificial intelligence engine to be able to recognise something, it needs to be taught what it looks like and to make sure the data we give it is correct," Dr Adcock said. "It's also about teaching it what you're not looking for.
"If you train an algorithm to recognise spiders and you showed it a praying mantis, it would probably say that's a spider because it's never seen a praying mantis."
If users submit a photo to the app and the algorithm is unsure about what species it is, it will display two or three options as to what the creature could be.
While the app will only be for spiders and snakes at first, Mr Scarce said he hoped it could eventually expand.
"The ultimate goal is to recognise everything in Australia and potentially move abroad to the US and other places," he said.
Mr Scarce said there were many practical elements to the app.
"It could be able to be used by Telstra or electricity workers, where they have to open up boxes and there's snakes and spiders there. It could help identify them."