theBlu: Avatar Meets Social Media Underwater

TheBlu is a work in progress with the end result of hundreds of thousands of aquatic species in tens of thousands of underwater habitats swimming across the Web via phones, tablets and computers from Los Angeles to London, Madrid to Mumbai and Sao Paulo to Seoul.

TheBlu is a new social media experience that brings the Ocean to life on the web. Kids of all ages can visit the Ocean as a massive computer generated model. They can discover and learn about the Ocean while viewing beautiful works of art created by artists and developers all over the world.

Founder and CEO Neville Spiteri gave me a personal tour of theBlu. We started with a simulation dive into the Pacific Ocean viewing The Cliff along the Americas. I clicked on a Jailbreak Tang (fish), created by Hui-Ku Shih, and proceeded to follow the fish through The Cliff. In simple terms, Spiteri calls theBlu a video game using social media with a first person perspective of diving into the Ocean.

TheBlu is similar to popular Facebook games where players collect ocean life and share them with their friends. “People like to collect things. Ocean is an amazing space to explore and make friends by connecting with fish,” added Spiteri.

Players can click on a fish and then find another player with a different fish and play together, making a “friend” in the computer generated model of the Ocean. TheBlu is a work in progress with the end result of hundreds of thousands of aquatic species in tens of thousands of underwater habitats swimming across the Web via phones, tablets and computers from Los Angeles to London, Madrid to Mumbai and Sao Paulo to Seoul.

Teachers and professors have made a connection with theBlu as an educational platform for students to study different aquatic species. Currently in private beta, the platform has already been embraced by top-tier universities around the world, including MIT, USC and CMU, whose students are some of the first artists of the different species in theBlu.

The artist who creates species or habitats is called a “Maker”. Makers in theBlu select the species and habitats they want to create, and submit their art on the Maker Platform for curating. Makers showcase their art to a global audience while they connect with a community of peers, receive direct feedback from world-class digital makers and get paid for their contributions based on the popularity of their creations.

The technology behind this massive project is a mindboggling collaboration that includes digital industry leaders, such as Avatar Academy Award winning animation director Andy Jones and MIT Media Lab director Joichi.

“We’re just getting started,” explained Spiteri. ”We are passionate about the enabling power of the social web, we are moved by creations that strike global chords, like Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ album and Google Earth, and we are inspired by the great storytellers of our time, like James Cameron and John Lasseter.

“TheBlu represents a new art form where the canvas is the web and the topic and the inspiration is nature, the Ocean; an amazing combination of ‘code + data = art’, with everybody contributing from all over the world, together, on the web.”