NeMO-Net – Gamifying 3D Labeling of Multi-Modal Reference Datasets to Support Automated Marine Habitat Mapping

Jarrett van den Bergh*, Ved Chirayath, Alan Li, Juan L. Torres-Pérez, Michal Segal-Rozenhaimer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


NASA NeMO-Net, The Neural Multimodal Observation and Training Network for global coral reef assessment, is a convolutional neural network (CNN) that generates benthic habitat maps of coral reefs and other shallow marine ecosystems. To segment and classify imagery accurately, CNNs require curated training datasets of considerable volume and accuracy. Here, we present a citizen science approach to create these training datasets through a novel 3D classification game for mobile and desktop devices. Leveraging citizen science, the NeMO-Net video game generates high-resolution 3D benthic habitat labels at the subcentimeter to meter scales. The video game trains users to accurately identify benthic categories and semantically segment 3D scenes captured using NASA airborne fluid lensing, the first remote sensing technology capable of mitigating ocean wave distortions, as well as in situ 3D photogrammetry and 2D satellite remote sensing. An active learning framework is used in the game to allow users to rate and edit other user classifications, dynamically improving segmentation accuracy. Refined and aggregated data labels from the game are used to train NeMO-Net’s supercomputer-based CNN to autonomously map shallow marine systems and augment satellite habitat mapping accuracy in these regions. We share the NeMO-Net game approach to user training and retention, outline the 3D labeling technique developed to accurately label complex coral reef imagery, and present preliminary results from over 70,000 user classifications. To overcome the inherent variability of citizen science, we analyze criteria and metrics for evaluating and filtering user data. Finally, we examine how future citizen science and machine learning approaches might benefit from label training in 3D space using an active learning framework. Within 7 months of launch, NeMO-Net has reached over 300 million people globally and directly engaged communities in coral reef mapping and conservation through ongoing scientific field campaigns, uninhibited by geography, language, or physical ability. As more user data are fed into NeMO-Net’s CNN, it will produce the first shallow-marine habitat mapping products trained on 3D subcm-scale label data and merged with m-scale satellite data that could be applied globally when data sets are available.

Original languageEnglish
Article number645408
JournalFrontiers in Marine Science
StatePublished - 21 Apr 2021


FundersFunder number
2017 Center Innovation Fund
Living Oceans Foundation
NASA Earth Science Technology Office
University of Santa Cruz
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Cricket Island FoundationAIST-16-0031, AIST-16-0046, AIST-QRS-16-0004
Universidad de Puerto Rico
University of Guam


    • 3D classification
    • active learning
    • citizen science
    • coral reefs
    • fluid lensing
    • machine learning
    • remote sensing
    • video game


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