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A lot of us start our days like this:

Photo by Eric Demarcq/Flickr.


After spending so much time pulling our hair out in standstill traffic, we're usually looking for anything that might brighten our morning. A fresh cup of coffee. A surprise call from a friend. Something little that breaks up the monotony and holds the stress at bay, even for just a minute.

But what if the morning commute didn't have to be so bad?

That's why artist Brian Kane decided to delight commuters in Boston by replacing billboards with powerful pictures of nature.


Photos by Simone Schiess, used with permission.

Brian has an interesting background as both a fine artist and as a user-experience designer for websites. Where those worlds collide is where he's done some of his best work.

"I'm trying to apply the rules of good user experience to public art," he told Upworthy. "We've learned a lot about how to give users beautiful moments in UX. I want to take those best practices and apply them to the real world."

Having nothing to look at during your morning commute other than a giant, faded photo of a Big Mac? That's bad user experience.

That led him to this project, called "Healing Tool" (a reference to a tool in Photoshop that allows designers to easily retouch photos), in which he and his team placed two digital billboards just north of metro Boston, in one of the most congested areas of the city. He rented the ad space earlier this year from Clear Channel for a month, fair and square.

But instead of featuring big brand logos or exciting "limited time offers," Kane's billboards were, essentially, windows into nature. They displayed photos of the natural landscape, which rotated throughout the day and night.

They were gorgeous.

There's no conservation fund behind this. No mission to save the trees or combat global warming. Just an attempt to make the world a little more pleasant.

This year, advertisers are expected to spend about $540 billion globally, according to Ad Age. Meanwhile, Scenic America estimates there are as many as 780,000 billboards lining U.S. roads.

But Kane insists he's not out to make a big statement about advertising or to fight for the beautification of our highways. He just wanted to create something people would enjoy looking at.

He calls it a campaign without a message.

"People just like the idea of something pleasant in their daily life that's not selling them anything."

Which is why, he says, he resisted the urge to put his logo, website, or even his name on the billboards.

The response was tremendous.

"I got a lot of phone calls from happy commuters, and that makes me happy," he said. "If you can give them 20 seconds of joy, I think that's really what an artist should aim to do."

Kane says he hopes to bring the project to new areas in the spring, especially outside the U.S. But he has no plans to brand it or expand on its underlying message.

"I want this to be open to interpretation," he added. "I think, in my opinion, that's what makes it stronger"

You can see his billboards in action below:

A breastfeeding mother's experience at Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo is touching people's hearts—but not without a fair amount of controversy.

Gemma Copeland shared her story on Facebook, which was then picked up by the Facebook page Boobie Babies. Photos show the mom breastfeeding her baby next to the window of the zoo's orangutan habitat, with a female orangutan sitting close to the glass, gazing at them.

"Today I got feeding support from the most unlikely of places, the most surreal moment of my life that had me in tears," Copeland wrote.

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You could say Marine biologist, divemaster and National Geographic Explorer Dr. Erika Woolsey is a bit of a coral reef whisperer, one who brings her passion for ocean science to folks on dry land in a fresh, innovative and fun new way using virtual reality.

Images courtesy of Meta’s Community Voices film series

Her non-profit, The Hydrous, combines science, design, and technology to provide one-of-a-kind experiential education about marine life. In 2018, Hydrous produced “Immerse 360”, a virtual underwater journey through the coral reefs of Palau, with Dr. Woolsey as a guide.

Viewers got to swim with sharks, manta rays and sea turtles while exploring gorgeous aquatic landscapes and learning about the crucial role our oceans play—all from 360° and 3D footage captured by VRTUL 2 underwater storytelling VR cameras.


Hydrous then expanded on the idea to develop two more exciting augmented adventures using Meta Quest 2 technology: “Expedition Palau,” a live event where audiences can share a “synchronized immersive reality experience”, which includes live narration from Woolsey, and “Explore,” a “CGI experience” to enjoy the magic of the ocean at home.


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“I’ve been extremely fortunate to explore and study coral reefs around the world,” Woolsey said, sharing that it was “heartbreaking” to see these important habitats decay so rapidly while the latest scientific reports did not clearly lead to widespread compassionate action.

“How do we care about something we never see or experience?” she reflected. As she discovered, virtual reality would be a powerful solution for eliciting empathy. “VR has the ability to generate presence and agency and make you feel like you’re there. It's that emotional connection that can bridge scientific discovery and public understanding”

The combination of virtual reality and the ocean’s natural breathtaking beauty is, as Woolsey puts it, a “match made in heaven” for getting people more engaged in ocean education. “When you’re floating you can look up and down and all around you…seeing a school of fish surrounding you and reefs in these cathedral-like structures. Rather than watching a video of a scientist, you get to become the scientist.”

Hydrous also has special kits to provide middle school students hands-on learning about ocean life. In addition to a journal, activity cards and a smartphone VR viewer, each kit includes lifelike 3D printed model pieces of a coral reef so that middle school students can try building their own.

These reef models even turn white when temperatures rise inside the aquarium, which mimics the real “bleaching” that corals endure when they die due to higher than normal ocean temperatures. Students really do become scientists as they figure out how to bring color back to their reef.

While it’s true that the health of our oceans affects us all, the growing threats our oceans face—pollution, overfishing, climate change—don’t always affect us on an empathetic level. Through the use of technology, Woolsey has created an innovative way to connect hearts and minds to one of the Earth’s most important resources, which can inspire real and lasting change.

“We can’t bring everybody to the ocean, but we’re finding scalable ways to bring the ocean to everyone.”

To learn more about Hydrous, click here.

via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


Dr. Daniel Mansfield and his team at the University of New South Wales in Australia have just made an incredible discovery. While studying a 3,700-year-old tablet from the ancient civilization of Babylon, they found evidence that the Babylonians were doing something astounding: trigonometry!

Most historians have credited the Greeks with creating the study of triangles' sides and angles, but this tablet presents indisputable evidence that the Babylonians were using the technique 1,500 years before the Greeks ever were.


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