Adam Ben-Dror sought to free his pet betta fish, Jose, from the constraints of his stationary abode. A New Zealand project designer, Ben-Dror created a mobile fish tank that can traverse flat surfaces in the direction the fish happens to be swimming. Known as the Abovemarine, the mobile tank is outfitted with three omni wheels, allowing it to move without the need to turn in the direction the fish is facing. A webcam sits above the tank and tracks the fish’s movement in real time, and a computer running OpenCV processes the directional data and moves the tank.

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Photography by Adam Ben-Dror

Ben-Dror’s designs usually begin with models rather than design programs, which he uses later for refining and finalizing. “My process, which is fairly typical when I work on a project, combines lots of physical prototyping with basic materials — cardboard, wood, acrylic,” he says. “I also did some form studies in foam and used CAD to refine the shape and physical design of the tank.”

Ben-Dror trained Jose to eat from his hand. Jose learned to focus on what Ben-Dror was holding and follow him in that direction — effectively learning to control his mobile home. Now Jose can interact with other species, including humans and animals, though he had best avoid cats and sushi chefs.

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