While guests might come to the Maldives to check out the bioluminescence of the plankton in the Maldivian waters, they acan also check out their own bioresonance at Joali Being. The “Amazing Hotels: Life Beyond the Lobby” episode about the Maldives hopped over to Joali’s latest property to see the latest tech for diagnosis and informing wellbeing. The host Monica Galetti visits its Areka Wellbeing Center to try out its “bio-resonance device which reads the energy produced by the living cells in her body.”
- “The Maldives’ first Hologram Room, recently opened at Four Seasons Resort Landaa Giraavaru, offers a magical “underwater” manta experience for the whole family, where no one gets wet. Unique hologram programs, based on real manta rays seen in the surrounding waters of the Baa Atoll UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, offer an extraordinary opportunity to virtually “swim” with manta rays, as well as other creatures such as the humpback whale, seahorse and mimic octopus. Two daily sessions of 30 to 45 minutes are hosted at the Resort’s on-site Marine Discovery Centre, offering guests of all ages colourful interactive opportunities to explore a life-size underwater wonderland.”
If you can’t get the people to paradise, bring paradise to the people. COVID’s travel restrictions spurred the development and adoption of many innovations to bridge the new distances imposed between us. Soneva Fushi introduced the especially immersive (and high tech) virtual reality electronic escape:
- “Soneva Fushi, the original barefoot luxury resort in the Maldives, has an exclusive Virtual Reality (VR) experience to overcome restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This experience brings an enchanting insight into island life into viewers’ homes. A curated experience with discovery at its heart, the VR series shares Soneva’s SLOW LIFE ethos and champions the beautiful Maldives archipelago as a bucket-list destination.”
Maldives spas offer all sorts of detox treatments, but Soneva Jani offers a digital detox button in all their villas. Just push this button on the wall and the wifi is switched off! Lest the kids think they can escape to the Kids Club to resume their device addiction, it too has a technology free zone in it.
Pretty much all resorts have wireless internet (aka “wifi”) these days, but wireless charging I haven’t seen until I came across Amilla Maldives’ bedside charger that I could just plop my phone onto after a long-haul trip depleting and get it charged up for my pending day of grammin’.
Bidets always seem to be a superfluous use of space in villas and they are going a bit out of fashion. But I realise that they are valued as a part of bathroom cleansing in a number of cultures. Ritz Carlton Maldives features a toilet with a built-in bidet so you can have the option with out the extra item in the bathroom. It also includes subtle LED lights to help you find the toilet in the dark (so you don’t have to disturb your partner by turning lights on). That is a commode that is very a la mode.
Maldives Complete focuses on innovative offerings and features at various resorts and increasingly those are applying modern technological innovations like solar power, controls, apps, etc. But Ritz Carlton Maldives is investing heavily in creating the innovation itself with its Plastics Drone Project. The Ritz has embraced and sponsored the work of Melissa Schiele, a PhD Student at Loughborough University in Marine Engineering and Ecology who has lived and worked in the Maldives going on ten years. She is the Founder and Principal Investigator (lead scientist) of the Plastics drone project.
When I visited, I met Shaun Laughlin who is the current resident research on the project at the property who introduced me to the project and is the newest Naturalist drone pilot. But being a drone researcher is more than being adept with flying controls as Shaun has a background in science communication, expedition leading and herpetology.
This week I had a chance to catch up with Melissa personally to learn more about the drone ghost net research and other applications of the drone technology. Uses water landing, fixed-wing drones which flies between 10 and 20 metres high. Altitude is one of the variables that the project is experimenting with in order to find the optimal configuration for drone flights to achieve the best results in survey data collection.
Melissa shared the follow overview of the work to date:
- “I think the best and most poignant ghost net image we have, was taken by former Naturalist and drone pilot, Kat Mason, which shows an Olive Riddley turtle, ensnared in a ghost net, which was intercepted completely by chance on a drone flight. The discovery prompted an emergency rescue which involved several resorts, and the turtle was flown to Coco Palm for rehabilitation.
- “During pre-opening, Dr Sol and I located just under 20 ghost nets around the island [see photo at bottom]. There have subsequently been huge efforts to remove these nets from the reefs, some being extremely challenging even for our most experienced divers.”
- “The detection of ghost nets falls within the two routine flights carried out by the resort Naturalist per week, though results from my analysis may require this to be increased. Currently, I am analysing the data from the images, from the Ritz-Carlton site and our site in Faafu Atoll multirotor and fixed-wing output – pertaining to three distinct experiments we are running to detect all types of plastics and nets (59,000 images collected and counting!).”
- “What we can tell you, is ghost nets are extremely difficult to delineate let alone classify, in drone images, due to the complex and dynamic nature of their structure and movement. Dr Sol is feeding vast amounts of training data (from around the world) into his algorithm to see if ML can decipher the specific parameters of the nets. I’m looking at computer vision/signal processing techniques to see if the nets can be delineated by splitting the RGB channel (and in future, multispectral images). Ultimately, we posit that the more you fly, the more chance you have of spotting a ghost net. However, this research will also highlight the optimal temporal and spatial operational parameters (i.e. where you should be flying, and when) to increase interceptions.”
Actually, ghost nets aren’t the only thing the project looks for. It also can identify illegal fishing (but this application is being used mostly in the British Indian Ocean Territories, a smaller archipelago south of the Maldives).
The biggest area of focus at the moment is identifying ocean plastic. Just how to identify plastic in the ocean is a significant image processing challenge. But if it can be refined, then we can learn huge amounts about where it comes from, where it goes, how moves, and how we can address it. The Ritz Maldives resort provides an excellent laboratory for studying ocean waste because the landscaping screw cleans the beaches every morning. As a result, the project team can go through the waste that was collected and have a very accurate and consistent daily sample for a fixed stretch of land. That data can then calibrate the image survey from the drone. For example, if the drone detects 3 plastic items on the beach, but 9 were collected, that finding helps determine a multiplier that can be used in future surveys to estimate actual accumulation based on the identified fidelity of the aerial photography. And by looking at the composition of the waste in the ocean, we can start to determine how plastic and other items change with seasons, weather conditions, etc. The research is foundational in that a lot of what it is trying to do is to experiment with, test, and calibrate the use of drone technology as a technique for ocean surveying.
Finally, I especially applaud the way they turned this innovative research project into a creative guest experience. Guests can go out with Shaun on the ocean with his drone on the looking for the ghost nets along with him.
Solar power is moving from innovation to the new normal especially at higher end resorts. Thanks to their Swimsol power generation, LUX South Ari Atoll can get identify how much clean energy they are consuming:
- “Guests can follow a live ‘solar tracker’ on their in-villas IPTV that will indicate the energy produced, diesel saved as well as the equivalent of carbon dioxide emissions savings to offset the number of long-haul flights.“
Not purely a “Maldives” site, but ever so perfect for it. “Name That Fish” couldn’t be better named itself. Here’s the concept – load your snorkeling or diving videos up their website, they run it through their AI algorithm, and al the prominent fish in the video get prominently tagged with a box identifying their species. Lori and I love our piscatorial treasure hunts in the Maldives and can’t wait to get back to the room to go through our collection of fish identification cards and books to figure out the new things we’ve seen. Now we can just let the computer do the work while we go and sip our pina coladas.
The project is the work of Jake Easterling, co-founder of Scubotics, and features over 11,000 fish in its algorithm. The technology is especially interesting to me because it is the core of my day job. I run a company which uses machine learning algorithms to detect variations in brain health on MRI images of multiple sclerosis patients.
Before reviewing it here on Maldives Complete I thought that I should test it myself so I uploaded one of our fish soup heave vids from a recent trip. There is no formal charge for the service, but the site requests a donation and suggest $5 which seemed reasonable to me. I uploaded it and a few days later I received an email with a link to the new video in a Dropbox location (see above as I’ve loaded on my YouTube channel). It came out superbly capturing most of the main fish visible and no errors of identification that I could spot.
The resort Joali is not just the “art” resort, but is also the “state of the art” resort. Fancy electronics and fixtures are not unusual in the high end Maldives properties. But nonetheless, sometimes the more swish switches are actually difficult to figure out what each one does. Sometimes when Lori and I want to turn off or on a specific light, we find ourselves embarking on a mini-treasure hunt trying different switches till we land on the right one. That is why we were de-lighted to see Joali’s controls. The wall fixtures were explicitly labelled. And if that wasn’t clear enough, they also provide an in-room ipad console which controls every device in the villa.