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Creating 3-D butterflies

LAS VEGAS, N.M. – The New Mexico Highlands University Media Arts and Technology Department recently received an award from the Smithsonian’s Cooper Hewitt museum for an interactive web app that will generate 3-D butterflies for mobile phones or computers.

This page is part of an award-winning app developed at New Mexico Highlands University that will generate 3-D butterflies for mobile phones and computers. ( Courtesy of NMHU)

The 3-D web app model created by a team of Highlands media arts faculty is called ButtARfly because it uses augmented reality. Only seven projects in the U.S. were honored in the Activating Smithsonian Open Access Challenge.

Highlands University’s media arts’ ButtARfly experience will “… render 2-D images of butterflies from the Smithsonian open-access collections into a 3-D format that invites users to learn more, while offering a delightful augmented reality interaction,” according to the Cooper Hewitt Museum.

bright spotJonathan Lee, a Software System Design professor in media arts, developed the project with Rianne Trujillo, also an SSD faculty member; Miriam Langer, Media Arts and Technology Department chair; and Lauren Addario, another media arts faculty member.

Lee says, “… we plan to release butterflies into the user’s camera feed, giving them an augmented reality experience and bringing these scientific butterfly specimens to life,” Lee said.

“We chose butterflies … because they have interesting variation, design and color. When tested, the 3-D ButtARfly prototype was feasible and aesthetically pleasing,” he said.

Users will be able to access the ButtARfly app on their mobile phones or computers in late July.


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