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RIT and Seneca Park Zoo researchers capture the sights, sounds, and insects of Madagascar

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

RIT and Seneca Park Zoo researchers capture the sights, sounds, and insects of Madagascar

Professor Anthony Vodacek helps lay groundwork for new virtual reality experience

Researchers from Rochester Institute of Technology and Seneca Park Zoo are developing a virtual reality gaming environment that will let zoogoers experience a Madagascar rainforest ecosystem. They recently journeyed to the Centre ValBio field station in Ranomafana National Park on a trip that laid the groundwork for creating accurate 3D models of the exotic Madagascar wildlife and habitat.

RIT Professor Anthony Vodacek and Seneca Park Zoo Society Director of Programming and Conservation Action Tom Snyder used remote sensing equipment to examine animals including comet moths, scorpions, katydids and other large insects. The goal is to create the virtual reality gaming environment in the next one to two years.

This will be the second gaming experience RIT and Seneca Park Zoo have created for zoogoers. The zoo is currently beta testing a game that simulates the Genesee River ecosystem. Visitors can play as an otter, a farmer, a homeowner or a scientist to learn about how their actions impact the environment. Snyder said Seneca Park Zoo Society’s partnership with RIT, which was formalized in 2017, has opened his eyes to new approaches to preserving the environment.

“There’s a really cool overlap between technology and conservation,” he said. “You don’t necessarily need to be a conservationist or a biologist to do these types of projects. There’s an interesting and exciting future for remote sensing and many other types of technology in conservation.”

For more information about how Professor Vodacek and his team captured sound and 3D images of Madagascar wildlife, click here to read the full article written by Luke Auburn and published by University News Services.