All posts by Frank Mod

Augmented Reality Sandbox Images Now in NSF Multimedia Gallery

There are 19 images in the series:  each image has a detailed description for what aspect of the sandbox experience the user is viewing .   The first image can be found here: http://www.nsf.gov/news/mmg/mmg_disp.jsp?med_id=75573&from=mmg  

To view the rest of the images either click on the next image (the link to the next image can usually be found at the end of the 2nd or 3rd paragraph in the current image’s description).  Or, search for Augmented Reality Sandbox in the gallery’s search: http://www.nsf.gov/news/mmg/mmg_search.jsp

3D Camera Technology and Filming Tahoe

3D works best for scenes that show depth, action, and a sense of awe. Flying between mountains, skimming the surface of the lake, or going deep underwater are the quintessential 3D shots. Shooting these aerial scenes used to require a crazy and highly skilled camera person with an equally crazy, skilled pilot. But given the demand for 3D video, it’s no surprise that inventive people created gadgets where once dangerous shots can now be safely taken with remote controlled hexacopters.

For our new 3D movie about Lake Tahoe, we’re able to collaborate with people who can get these beautiful, dynamic shots.  The next 3D experience at TERC will feature Tahoe underwater.  As our own Heather Segale noted in her article for Lake Tahoe News, we’ll still use tried and true divers to get many underwater shots.  Brant Allen and Katie Webb will dive into Tahoe with 3D cameras (generously donated by Go Pro) this spring to give viewers a unique look into Lake Tahoe’s depths.  They will be guided by Steve Andersen, a 3D movie specialist based out of Tahoe.  He created a weighted 3D camera that can sit in a shallow stream and film Kokanee salmon as they swim past. This simple device doesn’t compare, though, to his other wickedly cool 3D camera gadgets that can get beautiful aerial shots without risking life and limb (pictured below).  He attended our winter meeting at the Tahoe Environmental Research Center in Incline Village, NV, to show them off!  We were all very impressed with his creative solutions and ability to get the perfect shot.  We look forward to working with our collaborators and hope we can create a fantastic experience for the visitors to TERC.

IMG_3845Above:  Steve shows off an interchangeable camera stabilizer for his hexacopter (on the right).  The hexacopter can fly for up to 10 minutes on a charge and take breathtaking aerial 3D movies without putting life and limb in danger. (On the left, below Steve’s elbow, you can see the weighted underwater camera.)

Below:  Steve shows off cameras that are ideal for shooting 3D time lapses.
IMG_3850

Lake Viz Projects and Team Members in the News!

Wired Magazine Features the Shaping Watersheds Exhibit
Wired Magazine wrote a wonderful piece on our Shaping Watersheds exhibit, a.k.a. the AR Sandbox. It highlights what we think is the strength of the exhibit: the whimsical simplicity of playing with sand while layering complex, computational information on top of it. Although our visitors see cool topographic lines, bright colors, and water flow, the seamless integration between the sand, Kinect, computer, and projector makes this exhibit a tour de force of computational sophistication and an imaginative user interface. This Augmented-Reality Sandbox Turns Dirt Into a UI

New York Times Interviews Geoff Schladow
The New York Times interviewed our own Geoff Schladow for a piece that addressed the ongoing controversy between Nevada, California, environmentalists, and real estate developers. Since Tahoe straddles the state line, California and Nevada form a legal compact to mitigate human activity and development on the lake’s health. Nevada finds itself in a hard place as a lack of tourist dollars from the last economic downturn aren’t coming back as anticipated. Many feel that the new compact, a compromise between all parties, will impact Tahoe’s health negatively and could lead to over-development. Dr. Schladow focused on the lake’s health and provided the piece’s notable quote: “The lake is going to do what the lake is going to do,” Mr. Schladow said. “The water flows where the wind and the currents move it, and it doesn’t know about a state line.” A Balancing Act Around Lake Tahoe

Testing Tabletop Models for Lakes, Algae, and Plankton

Earlier this month we had a lot of fun testing a few of our hands-on tabletop activities. On the museum floor at the Lawrence Hall of Science, 70 people, ranging from elementary school-age children to adults, got a sneak preview of these new prototype activities and gave us their feedback to make them better. One of the tabletops we tested was the Seiche Wave Model. The model is a long, narrow tank that can be divided into sections for different colored water of different temperatures. Once the divider is removed, the different temperatures of water form layers, called thermoclines, based on density due to their temperature. By blowing air through straws, visitors saw how wind can make waves on a lake surface and also create internal waves, called seiche waves. Another favorite action children really enjoyed was pouring water through a tube to simulate how streams can produce seiche waves in a lake too.

Kids also liked playing the Algae and Plankton computer games. In this game, visitors learned how to identify different types of plankton and found out what kinds of phytoplankton zooplankton like to eat. Thanks to all the participants and their feedback, we know these activities are on the right track in nurturing curiosity and raising awareness about lakes and we’ve also gained some ideas on how to improve them.

-by Min Shih and edited by Maia Werner-Avidon

ACTION LAB, ECHO’s Newest Exhibit Space Opens Designed for Teens and Adults with Cutting Edge 3D Technology

ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, will be celebrating the opening up its newest exhibit space, Action Lab Saturday, May 18 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m..

ECHO’s new Action Lab exhibition, located on the top floor at ECHO will be open every day! What is an Action Lab and why create one? It is a space specifically designed to encourage and teach citizen science participation to teens and adults using a combination of state-of-the-art technology and hands-on experiments!

”ECHO’s decision to build this space has evolved over the past ten years. We listened to the community and we heard them say the same thing, they all want Lake Champlain to be a healthy resource for everyone, including all the animals and plants that call it home. The Action Lab allows the community to be engaged in making a positive difference in the health of the Lake. They will be able to fully understand all the Lake’s dynamics – from the origin of a blue-green algae bloom to the threats to the spiny softshell turtles that inhabit the Lake,” said ECHO Executive Director, Phelan Fretz.

Julie Silverman is ECHO’s Director of New and was the developer and construction manager for the Action Lab.

“What the new Action Lab allows us to do is to continually pioneer ways to engage our guests in local issues facing our community and the diverse breadth and beauty of the Lake Champlain Basin. By using cutting edge technology tools and ever-changing citizen science programs we are able to introduce dynamic ways our citizens can be involved in Lake stewardship,” said ECHO’s Director of New, Julie Silverman.

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