Grant: 19-017E
Project Title: S.H.E.L.L. (Simulating Habitat Experiences of Living Loggerheads)
Project Manager: Ronald Baez
Organization: After School Film Institute, Inc (Non-Profit Organization)
Grant Amount: $35,560.88
Completion Date: 2022-05-20

Summary: Project S.H.E.L.L. (Simulating Habitat Experiences of Living Loggerheads) is an immersive virtual reality (VR) experience meant to educate and inform the public (school-aged and adults) about various threats facing Florida Loggerhead turtles. Specifically, the simulation will allow audiences to assume the perspective of a Loggerhead turtle and the impact of light pollution during the hatching and nesting periods. This immersive and interactive installation will be used in museums, aquariums, and related centers. The 10-minute simulation will also be available for use on personal VR devices by global audiences.

Results: The COVID-19 pandemic stalled the projectís development, but we are happy to report that Project SHELL is a fully-functional and available VR experience. This experience can be accessed via the Oculus SideQuest platform. Project SHELL was featured in the recent issue of The Tortoise Magazine, published by The Sea Turtle Conservancy. See the report PDF for images of each page in the issue feature. The issue (#10) highlighted Jane Goodall and other conservation efforts, namely a prototype of Project SHELL. A series of experiments testing the impact of Project SHELL on wildlife conservation outcomes is currently in press at Nature Scientific Reports (Pimentel & Kalyanaraman, In Press). Project SHELL was highlighted at the 2021 Computer-Human Interaction (CHI) conference (Pimentel, 2021), and at the XR ACADEMIA 2021 2nd International Conference on Immersive Technology. Oculus Launch Pad: Project SHELL was accepted into the Meta Oculus Launch Pad from 2021-22. This demonstrates the industryís industry in the project and its promise of achieving mainstream adoption within Metaís VR ecosystem. Project SHELLís dedicated website contains images and video of the experience, including a teaser trailer and other content. The website is updated and polished.