Arctic Field Projects

Project Title: The Science of the Narwhal through Technological Innovation, HoloLens (Award# 1744179)

PI: Nweeia, Martin T (
Phone: (860) 364.0800 
Institute/Department: Case Western Reserve University, School of Dental Medicine 
IPY Project?
Funding Agency: US\Federal\NSF\GEO\OPP\ARC\ASSP
Program Manager: Dr. Colleen Strawhacker (
Discipline(s): | Education and Outreach |

Project Web Site(s):

Science Summary:
This award supports the synergy between new scientific technology and new scientific information on the narwhal to the public through a transformational technology, HoloLens. Microsoft's HoloLens has transformed academic and professional platforms of learning. The holographic computer headset brings holographic wonders into the viewers own world superimposing virtual objects over the wearer's field of vision. As opposed to virtual reality that isolates and transports the viewer into a different world, multiple wearers of HoloLens can participate in the same holographic experience. Case Western Reserve University Interactive Commons was selected by Microsoft as the experimental ground for the academic implementation of HoloAnatomy, teaching anatomy through life-like holograms. HoloLens technology will bring narwhal anatomy, ecology and behavior to Museum visitors by exploring holographic narwhal images as told by a holographic Inuit narrator. The innovative technology will transform the museum experience as multiple participants can enter a traditional background exhibit of fixed objects while holographic narwhals are swimming in the same room. Through 3D holographic animations, museum visitors will be actively engaged in the Inuit hunter presentation and be able to experience and understand and even walk around the 3D Holographic narwhal and hunter animations. As one example, Inuit observed differences in body and tusk form will help direct the body of scientific knowledge and direct transformative scientific discoveries of the tusk. Outreach through collaborative museum narwhal exhibits and educational programs will be implemented.

Logistics Summary:
Principal Investigator, Dr. Martin Nweeia at Case Western Reserve School of Dental Medicine, will work with graphic and 3D artist Kevin Hand, and the Interactive Commons at Case Western Reserve University to create an educational museum exhibit based on cutting edge science and Inuit knowledge about the narwhal. The exhibit will feature this unique Arctic megafauna as visualized through Microsoft HoloLens, an innovative, augmented-reality headset. Recent scientific discoveries and Inuit oral knowledge collected and published by the principal investigator will be rendered through this proprietary technology to tell a new story about the narwhal. The innovative Museum format envisioned in by this project will pave a new pathway for presenting science in a captivating and engaging manner, first through pilot programs planned at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and the to the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution. An estimated 18 million Museum visitors will have the opportunity to experience Narwhal HoloLens over the next three years. No fieldwork is associated with this project.

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