About two years ago, Cesar Jung-Harada, moved from San Francisco to Hong Kong with the aim of creating a maker space where people could specifically work on finding solutions to environmental and social challenges. MakerBay is located in an old industrial building in the Yau Tong area of the city and is a couple blocks from Kowloon Bay.
Prior to starting up MakerBay, Cesar developed a shape-shifting, sensor-laden ship called Protei. Cesar and his colleagues originally designed the ship to help clean up the BP Oil Spill that took place in 2010, but the project has since expanded to also serve as a platform for scientists, engineers and makers to collect data about the health of the ocean and other bodies of water and help transport scientific tools and equipment. Recently, Cesar launched Scoutbots, a community of people developing open technologies to explore and protect the oceans.
Makers at MakerBay are also looking at helping to address a critical environmental issue facing their bay and the world’s oceans: the decimation of coral reefs due to global warming. The common method of measuring coral reef growth involves scientists using a basic tool called a quadrat. But there a number of issues associated with using the quadrat sampling approach- it can damage the coral and it’s time intensive, requiring divers to spend extensive amounts of time taking measurements submerged.
Cesar has been working with a team which includes local students to develop a laser quadrat that could more effectively and efficiently assist in coral reef mapping. You can check out the prototype that they developed below. If you go to 5:09, you’ll see the group testing their prototype in Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park in Hong Kong. Nothing more satisfying than building your prototype and getting to test it in your own backyard, on your own coral reef.