Saturday, November 12, 2011

theBlu: bringing an interactive, underwater world to the Web

Ocean conservation can be challenging because it requires engaging an audience in a world that for the most part they cannot see. Ocean ecosystems exist below the waves, out of sight of most people and so to relate to it in any kind of meaningful way, we rely on photographs, films, and books.

These kinds of media can be moving and effective but they are also passive. Interaction can add that little extra which can sometimes help to bring an unseen world truly to life in the mind of the participant. This is what scuba divers, free divers and even snorkelers experience with their in-water activities; a different kind of visceral stimulus that media is not able to provide.

theBlu - an oceanic interactive experience
Now comes theBlu, bringing the interconnectivity of the Web to further our understanding and appreciation of the ocean and all its inhabitants. theBlu is a new, web-based application that allows users to view different oceanic realms, selecting and adding sealife to their own personal ocean experience and even sharing sealife with other users throughout the world. It is a platform in which qualified digital artists can contribute realistic computer-generated sealife and users can build their own underwater domains and learn about the various inhabitants.

The brainchild of Neville Spiteri, founder and CEO of Wemo Media based in Venice, California, theBlu has received support from various media and high-tech sources as Andy Jones, animation director on "Avatar"; Joichi Ito, director of the MIT Media Lab; and Louie Psihoyos, director of the 2009 Academy Award-winning "The Cove."

Online soon - a undersea world like we would want it to be
theBlu is currently wrapping up its beta-testing phase and should be fully online in the next several weeks. For the moment, interested users or digital artists can sign up for an invitation to explore and learn more about theBlu and its inner workings. (High demand has pushed invitations being completed in sometimes 1-2 weeks.) What I have seen so far is very intriguing. It paints a realistic world of oceanlife, perhaps the way we would like it to be - without the fishing nets, the pollution, and other threats. That could be a starting place to get people to realize that it is a precious, living, breathing world happening just below the surface.

Perhaps at some future point, theBlu will need to show more of the reality of what is happening today - of what was, what is now, and what could be. What propels many of us in being ocean conservation advocates is that we have seen what is going on behind the beautiful pictures of coral reefs, huge masses of schooling fish, and magnificent undersea behemoths; we have seen the loss and know that it must stop. So, for those who may never have the opportunity to actually look beneath the waves, theBlu is working to harness the Internet to hopefully enlighten those people and from there we can all work together to preserve this vital natural resource that the world depends on.

Visit and submit an invitation request at theBlu

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