2017 was an extremely productive year for Ocean Alliance, and I am happy to report that there has been no slowing down for 2018. In early January, I was invited to speak at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas for both Intel and FLIR. Speaking on these two stages was an amazing experience. Bryn Keller and I spoke together on the Intel stage with me talking about biology and drones and Bryn talking about data and drones — we might not be Penn and Teller, but I think that we did a good job!
Intel also had an augmented reality tower/exhibit featuring SnotBot; while this is hard to explain, in short when you approached the tower with your phone or pad you could see whales swimming around the tower and you could even click on a whale and get information on it. Very Cool.
The FLIR stage was different for me because I gave an interactive talk, we had SnotBot-FLIR “See Life” T-shirts and some other FLIR products to give away, so we had a lot of audience interaction, which was a lot of fun. At both the Intel and FLIR booths I felt like family and was treated very well.
I did get time to tour the CES show, but I am sure that I saw less than 50 percent of it – CES is one of the largest shows in America, covering 2.6 million square feet. Just under 200,000 people visited the show in its five-day run. I am used to being on a boat in the middle of nowhere, so I will admit that I found the show and the masses of people to be a bit overwhelming. That said, the technology that I was exposed to from Intel to FLIR and beyond was quite amazing.
I found two products that I think fit into my environmental bent: We all need an electric car, right? And the SnotBot program could do with a slightly larger drone? (Volocopter).
When SnotBot team member John Graham saw the Volocopter drone photo he said: “I see lots of places to attach Petri Dishes but I am not hand-catching that!” Copy that, John! The Volocopter was announced as part of the opening ceremony by Intel CEO Brian Krzanich.
We only had a short time together at CES but I got to make a new friend in Patrick Sherman or Lucidity from the Roswell Flight Test Crew. Beyond our obsession for drones Patrick and I had a lot in common, so I can see us working together on a number of projects in the future.
Back home it was up to Cape Ann TV to record a voice over for the SnotBot segment in the upcoming National Geographic series One Strange Rock hosted by Will Smith. Thank You Cape Ann TV!!
Just 10 days later I was back on the West Coast for the Southern California Marine Mammal Workshop. You may ask why an East Coaster is at a Southern California Marine Mammal workshop: it turns out that the humpback populations we are working with off Alaska and the blue whales off Loreto either pass by or can be found off the West Coast, so it was a great time to meet with collaborators and policy makers. I presented a posted that Ted Willke and Bryn Keller put together for the Society of Marine Mammalogy conference: “Machine Learning and Unmanned Aerial Systems for Real Time Analysis of Whale Health and Identity.”
It was a real surprise to see Eva Hidlago Plah at the conference. Eva was a core crewmember for the Operation Toxic Gulf expeditions, so it was great to see her and find out that she is just finishing her Master’s degree at John Hildebrand’s lab.
At the end of the week we are off on our first Parley SnotBot expedition of 2018. First we go to San Ignacio Lagoon for a fixed-wing drone gray whale photo ID study and then we are over to the Sea of Cortez off Loreto to work with blue whales. So there should be a flurry of blogs coming your way in the next three weeks.