USE OF SMARTPHONES AS MEASURING TOOLS FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES IN REMOTE SENSING

M. Campos-Taberner1, G. Grau-Muedra1, F.J. García-Haro1, B. Martínez1, S. Sánchez-Ruiz1, M.A. Gilabert1, R. Confalonieri2

1University of Valencia (SPAIN)
2University of Milan (ITALY)
The University of Valencia (Spain) offers an accredited university Master’s Degree providing students with technological and scientific basis in remote sensing. The Master’s degree in remote sensing allows acquiring competencies in satellite image processing, extraction of bio-geophysical parameters, physical modelling, field instrumentation and geographical information techniques. Contents of the Master include an Instrumentation Laboratory in which the students familiarize themselves with instrumentation for remote sensing and field measurements. In this context, the introduction in the laboratory of new technologies based on the capabilities provided by smartphones and tablets provides a step forward in acquiring, processing and sharing in situ data for remote sensing studies.

In this work, a smartphone app namely PocketLAI specifically designed for collecting leaf area index (LAI) ground measurements is presented. Since smartphones are daily use devices easy to handle by students, using an app instead of classical expensive heavy instruments would be more interesting both for remote sensing students and teachers. The app exploits the smartphone (or tablet) components such as accelerometer, GPS, smartphone connectivity and camera to derive LAI estimates in a simply procedure that can be followed by non-expert operators. The app was previously tested in several studies and demonstrated its reliability on a variety of herbaceous species and on grasslands providing trueness and precision (repeatability and reproducibility) comparable to commercial instruments. This accurate and easy to use app offers a practical and innovative educational tool for quantifying the key vegetation information related with plant growth and structure. The tool offers new unprecedented capabilities to support teaching activities in remote sensing laboratories