Researchers from the Free University of Berlin, West Virginia University, the University of Malta, and the Center for Astrobiology in Madrid have developed a hybrid part-human, part-machine visual system that uses a mobile phone camera to search for evidence of past or present life in planetary analog sites on Earth. In the Cyborg Astrobiologist system, the user takes images of the surroundings using a mobile phone camera. The images are then sent via Bluetooth to a laptop, which processes the images to detect novel colors and textures and communicates back to the user the degree of similarity to previous images stored in its database. "We are now working to speed up the image-compression analysis and put the whole system onto a smartphone--and eventually onto a Mars rover," says Free University's Patrick McGuire. Tests of the Cyborg Astrobiologist system have been conducted at field sites with similarities to landscapes that are found on Mars. "The novelty detection also worked well, although there were some issues in differentiating between features that are similar in color but different in texture, like yellow lichen and sulphur-stained coalbeds," McGuire says.