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Planet:tech Issue #2: VR as a catalyst to re-connect us with nature



September 10 · Issue #2 · View online

Dedicated to curating tech products and startups solving the world's most pressing problems, including climate change, pollution, and sustainability.

Hello everyone, Aleksandra here. 👋🏻
This week we wanted to talk about the possibilities of using technology and VR in particular to promote a better understanding of nature environmental challenges and altering actual human priorities and behaviors. This topic is of a particular interest to me and I will share a few interesting cases in the next couple of weeks. 
In this issue, we explore the prospect of VR in bring a deeper understanding of the ocean protection, how each of us can contribute to plastic-free waters. 
We certainly hope you enjoy it! 😊

VR: Helping people understand environmental challenges
Virtual Reality (VR) is no doubt the hottest thing in electronics and entertainment today. Now VR is little used within ecology, but its potential to benefit nature conservation is significant. Specifically, environmental advocates are starting to use VR as a tool to bring us a deeper understanding of the natural world and the environmental challenges we face as global citizens.
Some research shows that exposure to nature via VR can help people appreciate the natural world and its protection or actions relation to personal lifestyle and responsibility. Isn’t this the first step towards the change?
One of the interesting projects that we found in this space is Cry Out: The Lonely Whale Experience created by Lonely Whale and Dell. It is an underwater VR expedition that transports viewers into the depths of the sea to witness underwater life and see how pollution has disrupted it. 
The Lonely Whale is an NGO dedicated to bringing people closer to the world’s ocean through K-12 education, consumer campaigns and market-based solutions. Together with Dell Inc. they formed an open-source initiative called NextWave, working on developing a sustainable model that reduces ocean-bound plastic pollution at scale.
Research shows that an around 8 million tonnes of plastic waste entered the ocean in 2010, and if trends do not change the number will increase to 150 million tons by 2025. This poses not only a threat to vital ocean ecosystems, but also adversely affects the health and longevity of marine species.
We think Cry Out VR experience gives viewers a very emotive involvement into the plight of the whale, and the oceans and pollution, both noise and plastic, and how it affects wildlife. Our next question here is: Will digital familiarity with an ocean or a whale breed caring and change people’s priorities and practices, what they buy, what they preserve in their own environment? 
Would love to hear your thoughts on this. Just hit reply and let’s talk. 🤓
You can download Cry Out for your mobile device here or watch via a desktop VR app here. This video shows the story behind the project.
Sailing away on waste
Speaking of plastic waste in our water resources, we recently stumbled upon this amazing company Plastic Whale that builds beautiful boats and high-end office furniture from the plastic fished in Amsterdam’s Canal. 
Isn’t it cool? 😎
Their board-room table and chair look pretty neat. 👌🏼
Plastic Whale is on a mission to make the world’s waters plastic-free and create value from plastic waste. You (and anyone) can contribute and join plasticfishing in Amsterdam or Rotterdam.
Making waves: this app can help save our coastlines
Last year, Aleksandra began following the Big Ocean Button Challenge – a crowdsourcing competition to find breakthroughs that transform big ocean data into useful mobile applications. The main issue that this challenge was addressing is the disparity of how much ocean data is being collected, but how little of it is actually being used. 
Every single day over 20 terabytes of ocean data are collected about the ocean. These bytes should help us understand currents, water quality, fish populations, coral reefs, and more. But despite being publicly available, this data is not easily accessible or actionable? Access to digestible, instant ocean data can help solve some of the world’s grand challenges and push the new blue economy forward. 
She looked through the winners of the challenge who were working to unlock the wealth of data and put it to use for business and individual users. As a lover of surfing, naturally the app that stood out the most to her was the Endangered Waves app that incentivizes surfers to monitor the health of their own coastlines through crowdsourced data. Available for iOS and Android.
Endangered Waves App by Save The Waves - YouTube
Tweets to retweet
Oceana on Twitter: "Restoring the oceans could feed ONE BILLION people a healthy seafood meal each day.
Lonely Whale on Twitter: "Is #recyclable the next 4 letter word? 🤭♻️ With only 9% of all #plastics actually #recycled globally, we need to start aggressively addressing source plastics.
Before we go, know we´re happy to have you here ✨
Your feedback means a lot to us. 💚
Let’s connect on twitter and let us know what you think or email us at: 🌎
Till next week,
Aleksandra, Andrea, and Jessica. 💚
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