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DICE Panel: "Exploring the Ocean Deep in 3D: To the Titanic And Beyond"

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Posted February 10, 2011 - By Kevin Kelly

 DICE 2011

Dr. David Gallo is the Director of Special Projects at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, more commonly known to the rest of the world as the group of people who found the Titanic. At first glance, it would seem odd to have an oceanographer talking at DICE, but surprisingly, there are gaming applications relevant to both the discovery of Titanic, and its continued existence.

He pointed out that "If you're a good gamer with a joystick, then you're a perfect candidate for an ROV pilot. In many ways, it's like the ultimate game." So if you'ever ever dreamed of piloting a remotely-operated vehicle, all of that gaming you've been doing has been research. Gallo believes that the key to the Titanic's continued existence as a viable archaeological site is through gaming. Meaning that they're hoping to catalogue, map, and scan the site in such intricate HD detail, so that they can present it to you later as a virtual world.    

Does that mean World of Titanic is on the way? Probably something along those lines. Imagine piloting virtual ROVs through an extremely detailed, texture-mapped sonar and HD video version of the entire Titanic resting place, complete with the complete debris field. With the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic coming up next year, it wouldn't be surprising to see a project much like this. If Dr. Gallo has his way, that's exactly what we'll see.
 
Here are some of the interesting facts from Dr. Gallo's panel:  
  • We've only explored 4% of the ocean.
  • We find more life at the bottom of the ocean than we find in the entire Amazon rainforest.
  • When we were out at the Titanic site recently we had over a million hits on our Facebook page for the expedition. I came to Wood's Hole a year after they had discovered the Ttianic, and I thought interest would die down, but it hasn't.
  • There have been like 20 expeditions to Titanic, but no one ever approached it like an  archaeological  site. That's what we set out to do with this last expedition.
  • We think we've collected enough data, that we think we can make the image of the Titanic at the bottom of the ocean real. So, we're building a virtual model of it.
  • There's a debris field around Titanic full of tens of thousands of things. No one has really mapped that.
  • I'm a gamer. I've explored virtual worlds sitting on my PS3 or Xbox. In fact, on our research vehicle we have the ROV room, the AUV room (autonomously operated vehicle) and the game room in it with someone in there 24/7 playing a game of some kind.
  • Our goal was to leave no spot unlooked at, so we looked at every spot twice.
  • For the first time, after our sonar scanning, we had a tactical map we could use of the entire site.
  • To build a virtual world version of the Titanic's resting site, we're pasting high-rez textures onto sonar images. The combination of the textures from the video and the sonar map combine to make a high definition, three dimensional image.
  • We believe that the best way to present this to the public is through a gaming platform. We want to present this so you can have this same experience at home of peeking through those portholes. Without the risk of hurricanes.
  • Bacteria is eating away at the ship, and it's taking away all of those stories with it. We want to preserve that. A lot of the stuff when you go this deep hasn't been looked at before. We didn't know this bacteria existed.

For more information, you can visit www.expeditiontitanic.com. They're returning to the Titanic site later this year, so follow along with this ambitiious project and see what comes out of it.

 

DICE Panel: "Exploring the Ocean Deep in 3D: To the Titanic And Beyond"
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