Non-Torturous Learning: Waterboard Without Getting Wet

Having access to fresh, clean water is one of the most important aspects of maintaining a healthy population. But not everyone understands just how our world’s water supply is all connected. To educate the world on water issues in a completely novel and fun way, Mike Burton created the Waterboard: an interactive learning tool that is much less torturous than it sounds. You can step into the installation and play with water without getting even a little wet.

The Waterboard consists of a large opaque board, four cameras and four projectors. The projectors and cameras track the movements of whoever is playing with the board and the marks they make with dry-erase markers. A stream of virtual water flowing down from the top of the board changes based on how the user interacts with it.

Drawing marks on the board will change the flow of the water, as will standing under the stream or holding one’s hand against the board. Pools form in cupped hands or a drawn vessel, then sea life appears and swims around happily. If a pool of water is cut off from its supply, it stagnates. The effect of the installation is that it brings to mind just how connected the world’s water supply is and how important it is to maintain cleanliness in the world’s waterways. Burton’s project won the 2007 RSA Design directions award.

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See more in Futuristic or under Technology. September, 2010.