OLLIE (Ocean Learning Lab and Immersive Experiences) was a traveling ocean science education program designed to reach new and diverse audience by combining four powerful tools:
- Emotionally resonant, immersive experiences
- Collaborative, shared exploration
- Engaging, multisensory, hands-on learning
- Mobile education that brings the ocean to the people
OLLIE was a mobile "virtual submarine on wheels," designed to travel to communities wherever they were and take groups of people on shared, immersive virtual field trips into the underwater world.
The mobile virtual submarine, parked outside of the Cambridge (MA) Public Library
The interior of the mobile virtual submarine, showing immersive video of a coral reef in Bermuda
Outfitted with seven 4K TVs framed to look like giant portholes, curved walls to simulate being inside a pressurized vehicle, industrial lighting and HVAC, and 5.1 surround sound, we created a multisensory immersive space that looks and feels like a submarine.
To truly create the sensation of being surrounded by the ocean, we filmed our own custom footage for each screen. To create this content, we traveled or sent our cameras to film marine environments around the globe: the Philippines, Bermuda, Israel, and the coasts of Massachusetts and California.
Working in partnership with scientists and conservationists in the field, we captured a variety of ecosystems, including coral reefs, kelp forests, and even the bottom of the ocean, 823 m / 2700 ft deep!
The R/V Nautilus launches the Remotely-Operated Vehicle ("ROV") Hercules, with OLLIE's cameras aboard
More than just a window gallery for immersive video, we designed and built a variety of interactive tools to tell the stories of ocean science and conservation. These included:
- Digital microscopes for looking at marine invertebrates;
- An Augmented Reality Sandbox for exploring topography, watersheds, and seafloor geology; and
- Touchscreen kiosks and digital map tables for investigating data on everything from sea level rise to plastic pollution.
Here's a video of founder and CEO Patrick Flanagan giving a tour of the inside of the submarine and the interactive tools within:
Completed in June of 2019, OLLIE hit the road to bring the ocean to the people. Traveling over 3,200 miles, OLLIE connected more than 4,400 people with ocean science and conservation in more than a dozen events and programs. We visited universities, elementary schools, museums, conferences, festivals, and libraries—even the 2019 Boston ComiCon!
Exploring the global ocean floor with elementary school students
Discussing seafloor geology with students at the MA High School Marine Science Symposium