May 16, 2012
Interactive HD Aquarium/Zoo
For the KC Aquarium: HD cameras are set up in the various tanks with beautiful (though stationary) views. These HD feeds are released for re-use -- live screensavers or desktop backgrounds, iPad apps, educational/classroom use, stunning corporate wall-art, people who'd love to have a fish tank but don't want to be bothered with one, etc. (I'd make this free for educational/non-commercial use, nominal fee for businesses)
For the interactive side: build a small RC submaries (perhaps modeled after the Nautilus from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea? This would could be a good collaborative project with the local hackerspace, CCCKC, which would be well-suited for this). People rent time for virtual control of the sub. Cameras in the sub provide HD POV video; controls could allow for navigation/orientation of the sub, control over lights (for dark areas), etc. It would be pretty amazing to navigate through a fishy environment like this, but also there could be some pretty cool sub-only environments -- caves to explore, that sort of thing.
For the KC Zoo: HD video feeds from the various animal enclosures. Special feeds/attention for specific events (births, for example) -- would be pretty nice to have a zoo feed backdrop for a classroom. Perhaps an interactive element could be allowing people to buy food for various animals (with restrictions of course on the amount of food offered, so that there wouldn't be any issues with overfeeding).