Queen Mary University of London

Atlantis

Turtle swimming simulation

The Challenge: To help protect an endangered species such as the Loggerhead sea turtle, a better understanding of the animal's behaviour is paramount as it guides defining areas of priority protection. To do so, Scientists from Queen Mary University of London have come up with movement tracking tools but their interpretation is complicated by the large amount of data.

Outcomes: To solve that, Atlantis turns raw data into directly observable behaviours. In addition, its realism helped turn it into an educational tool for NGOs to extend the conservation effort by engaging with populations from Cape Verde, where research is conducted.

Context

Every summer, a team of scientists from Queen Mary University travels to Cape Verde where, during 8 weeks, they deploy sensors on nesting loggerhead turtles so as they can track them and understand their complex and mysterious behavioural patterns as they return to the ocean.

This generates large arrays of points which are tedious to interpret using existing data analysis tools. In addition, graphs and charts are not always the best support when it comes to showcasing research, whether to educate or to convince decision makers in charge of research fund allocation.

The Project

Following a 3 weeks collaboration with the scientists to understand their methodologies and needs, a co-ideation phase led us to design and develop a simulator allowing for:

  • Real-time visualisation: Our simulation model converts, in real-time, 6 axis acceleration + pressure data into a photo-realistic 3D swim, allowing for fast interpretation by a human (for instance: is the turtle diving / hunting / resting?)
  • Time travel: Atlantis makes it easy and fast to load raw data on the fly, pick and play an interesting series of events within large arrays of points (the average recording covers a period of 3 weeks with 7 sensors recordings per second)
  • Bulk analysis: Scientists can compare dives from different times and different turtles in a matter of minutes
  • Education: The way we designed the simulator made it easy for us to develop, in parallel, a simplified VR version for educational purposes

Impact

Because they are now able to interpret the data at scale, Atlantis allows scientists to understand loggerhead turtles behaviour and define no-fishing zones more accurately.

The VR version is being used in Cape Verdian schools and prisons to help raise awareness around the plastic polution issue and reduce the practise of poaching.

Contributors

Christophe Eizaguirre, Emma Lockley, Albert Taxonera, Fernando Pain, Emma Powell, Leonard Heuse, Samuel Iliffe and Guillaume Couche

Contact

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