Digitizing Corals- The future of coral reefs

Coral Reef_Guam_The Hydrous
Coral Reef_Guam_The Hydrous

We have recently pioneered a method to create ultra high resolution 3D models of corals for novel scientific and visualization tools. Using nothing more than a camera and 3D software, we can produce an accurate, interactive 3D model that doesn't require any specialized 3D viewing software.

Furthermore we have developed a workflow to quantitatively measure surface area of these coral models, opening doors to scientific possibilities not available until now. The response from the scientific and tech community has been resounding.

“The (coral) models are incredible. I see many areas where such high resolution models would be useful. We need a non-destructive way to accurately measure surface area and volume of corals. I think this would be incredible as a visualization and would definitely get people talking about how fabulous coals are.”

Ruth D. Gates, Ph.D.

Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology

Our last project included a massive team of 10 scientists, technologists, and photographers, including environmental photographer Naomi Blinick, National Geographic Young Explorers Andrea Reid and Mikayla Wujec, US National Park scientists, and Autodesk legends Pete Kelsey and Shaan Hurley.

In 5 days we took over 27,000 photos, generating over 2 terabytes of data, and photo-captured over 100 corals. To see behind the scenes video and pictures from our latest project in Kalaupapa, HI, visit here and here.

We are now scaling up our efforts, creating large coral reef “scenes”, with the end goal of capturing entire coral reefs in interactive 3D for immersive experiences. With the burgeoning field of virtual reality (like Google Cardboard and Oculus Rift) and 3D printing, the possibilities are immense.

The ground swell is building, and we are honored to have been featured in these various venues:

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Autodesk's main blog: In the Fold

 2014 TEDx Sonoma Talk (The Hydrous work mentioned at 10:28)

Autodesk Blog by Shaan Hurley

 UPDATE (8/21/14): We were featured in theses 3D websites: