Project aims to bring VR to coral reef conservation

A project in Singapore aims to create “immersive underwater habitat survey experiences” for those looking to study and protect coral reefs.

The Eyes on Habitat project is a joint venture by VR content producers Hiverlab, environmental consultants DHI water & Environment and PIXEL Labs.

Currently in prototype stage, the tool is aimed at marine biologists and reef monitoring volunteers. Using the tool, they will learn monitoring methods and identification skills in a VR experience before they embark on their first dives.

Underwater training on dry land

Training that has to take place underwater has always a number of logistical challenges. Principally, gauging trainee responses to what they are learning and being able to guide sessions effectively can be difficult under the waves.

Communication has been limited to visual ques and hand signal, tools which can become blunted in Singapore’s usually murky waters.

By conducting underwater training sessions on dry land, Eyes on Habitat allows instructors to visually and, importantly, verbally guide trainees through an immersive environment. Trainee responses will be able to tallied in real-time.

“We see long-term value in this initiative where corals are digitised in the 3D format and training sessions are conducted in an interactive immersive environment,” said Hiverlab founder Ender Jiang.

“Moving on, we hope to make it a global movement, to empower more people to share their knowledge about corals and learn about corals with similar methods.”

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