Stanford VR Project Shows Students Oceans of the Future
By Dian Schaffhauser 10/19/16
A new, free virtual reality program allows users to explore just what happens as climate change kills off coral reefs. The Stanford Ocean Acidification Experience is a free science education tool that takes students to the bottom of the sea and then fast-forwards their experience to the end of this century, when, as scientists predict, many coral reefs are expected to corrode through ocean acidification. By putting the experience in VR, the collaborators say they are hoping to change people’s behavior in the real world.
The project came out of Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, which created a related 360-degree video project that also examines the problem of global warming and its impact on the ocean’s life forms. But it’s the VR version that allows the viewer to deep-sea dive and collect samples off of the ocean floor.
The lab created the software in partnership with marine biologists Fiorenza Micheli from Stanford and Kristy Kroeker, formerly at Stanford and now at the University of California, Santa Cruz, as well as Roy Pea, a professor at Stanford’s Graduate School of Education. The development process took two years to recreate a virtual replica of an actual rocky reef around the Italian island of Ischia
A related video, “The Crystal Reef,” filmed in 360 degrees and developed as part of a master’s degree project by a lab member, premiered during the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year. There, people could watch the film on VR headgear. “We had a line of dozens of people for 11 hours a day, six days straight,” said Bailenson, in a Stanford article about the project.
The VR project has also gone to Washington, where lawmakers and staffers tried it out during a Capitol Hill event organized by non-profit Ocean Conservancy.
more on virtual reality in this IMS blog