Despite exhibiting some species that have existed long enough to earn distinction as “living fossils,” the Tennessee Aquarium is no stranger to being on the leading edge of technology.
From virtual reality immersive learning and the region’s first IMAX with Laser projection system to the world’s only tweeting electric eel, the Ocean Journey and River Journey buildings have long served as test beds for new technologies.
With the recent opening of its newest exhibit—Tiny, But Mighty Important—the Aquarium pushes even further into the virtual (or perhaps “the final”) frontier with a display employing holographs. Guests visiting the new exhibit will be able to watch a short presentation appearing to float in mid-air that illustrates the devastating impact that silt and erosion can have on freshwater ecosystems.
The imagery hovers in a kiosk over a bed of actual river rocks and is viewable from all angles. As the animation begins, viewers see a 3-D projection of life in a healthy stream, with fish laying eggs and aquatic insects crawling among the stones. Later, erosion from nearby hills sends silt into the water, clouding the scene, smothering the eggs and eventually causing the animal life to disappear.