The health of the world’s oceans is rapidly degrading, but how can we protect what we can’t see? San Francisco nonprofit, The Hydrous, is tackling this challenge head-on, and in doing so, they’re opening up access to the hidden treasures of the world’s oceans to all.
The team is combining its passion for protecting our world’s oceans with its expertise in marine biology and science education to increase awareness of pressing environmental issues like climate change and plastic pollution. The Hydrous is using innovative technology such as virtual reality, drones, and 3D printing, on board expeditions across the globe to share the ocean with the world – using real and virtual immersive experiences to foster emotional connections with amazing marine environments; learning more about the issues facing them.
Throughout the expedition, the team conducted scientific monitoring projects that involved sampling for microplastics in the water and sand and measuring coral mortality following a large-scale coral bleaching event. The team also created 3D models using photogrammetry – measuring and examining coral colonies and entire islands using photography and drone footage in conjunction with Autodesk’s ReMake software – as well as collected virtual reality footage (the first to be done in the Maldives).
Capturing the Reef
To capture, process, and then share this VR footage and its 3D models with the world, The Hydrous team requires some of the most powerful technology in the world. For the best possible results, the nonprofit’s designers look to Lenovo’s ThinkStation P510 and ThinkPad P50 – running Intel Xeon processors – to ensure its Autodesk and Adobe suites run without delay.
The team also relied on the P50 above the water – using it to enhance the lecture and workshop experience, render 3D models, track GPS coordinates, and review virtual reality footage after dives; all while being portable to travel with and carry in the field. Now that the expedition is complete, the team plans to use this powerful and reliable technology to bring their findings to audiences across the globe.
Beyond the Reef
Though a priority of the trip was to dive in and use this technology to explore the ocean surrounding the islands, the team left their diving gear to spend some time above sea level to learn about local issues – such as sea level rise, waste management, and coral reef protection– from Maldivian community leaders and council members. The team also led several seminars covering topics like underwater photography, photogrammetry, coral reef monitoring, and the effects of pollution on coral reefs.
Using the footage and data collected during the expedition, The Hydrous plans to provide curated content to supplement science curriculums for schools and educators. Other plans include contributing data to long-term monitoring projects, as well as partnering with museums to host interactive exhibits with VR content accompanied by soundscapes and physical 3D coral models.
“The 3D models we created and the footage we collected will find their way to classrooms and help educate young children studying the oceans for the first time through virtual reality,” Hydrous team member and diver Kiran Punnilathil said in a recent blog post – a must read that covers all the aspects and adventure of what The Hydrous took on in the Maldives.
How The Hydrous Brings An Ocean to More
Lenovo partnered with The Hydrous last year through its ThinkRevolution program, which allowed the nonprofit to not only tell its stories to a broader audience, but also access to the technology they need to create innovations that are revolutionizing its industry.
To learn more about The Hydrous’ upcoming expeditions and projects, visit https://www.thinkworkstations.com/tr-story/thehydrous/.