The wonder of our ocean at your fingertips.
The Monterey Bay Aquatic Research Institute - MBARI, for short - is a nonprofit oceanographic research center. They run myriad research programs that encompass the entirety of the ocean. From surface waters to seafloor, from coastal zones to the open sea - MBARI seeks to understand the complexity, variability, and beauty of of our worlds ocean.
MBARI approached us with an idea for processing and visualizing over 30 years worth of video data, and putting it into the hands of researchers, marine biologists, and curious students alike in a way that could help to massively improve the quality and accuracy of what we know about our ocean. The project - dubbed FathomNet - involved creating an experience that would work just as well for experienced researchers as it would for lay people seeking to build on what they already know about the marine world. No small feat!
Making a tool that's equally appealing to very disparate audiences was one of our biggest challenges on this project. One of the main solutions involved designing and offering different methods for searching and exploring the available data. For those who might be more casual and curious, we designed a colorful map view, leveraging different tones and textures to give at-a-glance insight into different types of data (varying depths, locations, etc...). For the more experienced scientific community, we also created a taxonomic tree view, allowing for researchers to be as specific (or not) as they need when looking for data.
MBARI proactively reached out to us about FathomNet because of our success delivering on a different marine research tool we designed for a company called CVision, known as Tator, which MBARI directly uses.
Tator provides a system for training machine learning models to meticulously annotate oceanographic media recorded by wide ranges of underwater capture devices. The resulting data is used for all sorts of things, from mapping out migration and population trends to piloting autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) as they track marine life.
Since both FathomNet and Tator involve providing an intuitive experience for adding, editing, and managing metadata associated with images, we were able to leverage not only our industry knowledge gleaned from working on Tator, but also much of the underlying functionality to help power FathomNet.
We cannot overemphasize how fun and fascinating working with MBARI is. Not only is the team immensely collaborative, but their sense of wonder and excitement is infectious. Truly, there is so much to explore and protect right here on Earth, and FathomNet helps to enable that in a very real way, right from your desk.