NOV 13, 2019 1:58 PM PST

An Ant the Size of a Lion?

WRITTEN BY: Nouran Amin

Having an ant the size of a lion isn’t an impossible idea—at least through augmented reality.

Watch this augmented reality zoo:

What exactly is augmented reality (AR)? It is the interactive experience of the ‘real world’ through the help of computer-generated images. AR is often used in gaming but recently researchers from Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) have utilized its application with biodiversity.

"In our lab we have been working on tools to interact with biodiversity data in different ways," said Prof. Evan Economo, senior author of the study. "The specimens we study are locked away in natural history museums, and not easily accessible to both researchers and the general public."

Credit: Biodiversity and Biocomplexity Unit at OIST

In the study published in the journal Insect Systematics and Diversity, researchers have utilized a high tech focused approach on AR focused on taxomny, or in particular six new species of Strumigenys ants (miniature trap-jaw ants). The approach was an interactive taxonomic app known as ‘Insects3D’

"With this app, we hope to get more people interested and help everyone see what the potential could be in the future," Economo said. "We have six [ant] models and geographic maps of where they are found. It's just the beginning and we are excited by what's to come."

Insects3D gives the opportunity for users to magnify tiny species in augmented reality. "When we made the app I gave it to my five-year old son," Economo said. "He spent an hour running around the house putting ants everywhere."

"The main research of the lab is understanding the evolution of insect diversity around the world, and new species discovery is a part of that," Economo said. "Rather than just describing new species in papers very few will read, we are interested to push the boundaries of technology and how we share results with our colleagues and the public."

Source: Science Daily

About the Author
  • Nouran is a scientist, educator, and life-long learner with a passion for making science more communicable. When not busy in the lab isolating blood macrophages, she enjoys writing on various STEM topics.
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