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VBrick Drives Real-Time Marine Exploration and Education Project

Visitors to Connecticut’s Mystic Aquarium & Institute forExploration are exploring Monterey, California’s National MarineSanctuary “live” from across the continent.

This innovative new project, known as the Immersion Institute, usesthe same robotics used in sea exploration, enhanced by high quality,real-time video from VBrick Systems.

In a first of its kind application, VBricks transport high-qualityvideo from the Monterey National Marine Sanctuary over Internet2, ahigh-speed backbone that provides nationwide high-performancenetworking capabilities to more than 200 universities. VBrick encoderslocated in Mystic then deliver the DVD-quality video streams inreal-time to the Immersion Institute for display on video screens andTV monitors, allowing visitors to interact with the marine environmentfrom thousands of miles away.

Dr. Robert Ballard, the famed researcher and explorer who discoveredthe Titanic, conceived this innovative project. “Nearly ten years ago Ienvisioned creating an opportunity for people to go on their ownexplorations using the same tools that we use for deep sea expedition,”said Dr. Ballard, founder and president of the Institute forExploration. “By wiring these National Marine Sanctuaries we can nowbring the wonders of the sanctuaries to people who would otherwisenever have an opportunity to witness them.”

The Immersion Institute program allows visitors to explore theMonterey Sanctuary in a round theater using interactive consoles tooperate a submersible wired with live, real-time video cameras. Aninterpreter takes the audience through an exploration of the sanctuarywhile an interactive game is running on the console in front of them.At the interactive consoles, visitors can also learn more about themarine life that inhabits the sanctuary, such as California sea lionsand anemones and Bat Stars, from informational databases and virtualgames in which they earn points for completing “missions” by locatingspecific life forms. There are also plans to develop an educationalversion to serve as a tool for teachers to help make marine science,including marine biology and ecosystems, interesting, real, andrelevant to their students.

“The Immersion Institute is a tremendous example of the power ofvideo as an educational tool,” said Rich Mavrogeanes, founder andpresident of VBrick Systems. “Mystic Aquarium is demonstratingoutstanding leadership in this regard by enabling visitors to interactin real time in a marine environment 3000 miles away. We at VBrickSystems are proud to be part of this groundbreaking project.”