Alejandro: How are you?
Cristine: Good. Thank you.
Alejandro: Excuse me if my voice is uh… I got a little cold and I’m still recovering from it.
Cristine: Is that possible where you are?
Alejandro: Say it again?
Cristine: No. I was just surprised that you got a cold. Aren’t you in a very warm place?
Alejandro: So in Silicon Valley, it’s pretty good weather but I’ve been travelling quite a bit. And so when you go warm, cold, warm, it’ll get you. Where are you now? Are you in a boat right now? Where are you?
Cristine: I’m in Oslo.
Alejandro: You’re in Oslo.
Alejandro: Do you no longer live in a sailing boat?
Cristine: Yes, I am going to move out on my sailboat again from May but now I recently bought an apartment just to escape in the winter. I’ve been living on my boat all year round the past three years but I had a better location for my boat previously so I had access to showers and washing machines and everything on land.
Alejandro: Oh, right.
Cristine: Made it a little bit easier.
Alejandro: Yes. That makes a lot of sense.
Cristine: But here in Oslo, my boat is now currently out the small island and there’s nothing.
Alejandro: Oh, wow. Okay. Do you get… since you’re out on a boat for so long, when you go back to land, get a little like a little land sick or not? This is like the opposite.
Cristine: I sway. Yes, you do actually.
Alejandro: You do?
Alejandro: Wow, that’s impressive. So thanks again for the time. And I pretty much just want to… I want the opportunity, the chance to share your story. And let me bring out a couple of the questions that I have here.
So I always begin with by asking two similar questions in the very beginning which is, is there anything that you do during the morning time to help you get a strong mindset, to get you started the right way?
Cristine: Yes. I turn on music and then I do some yoga. And I always, perhaps it’s boring but I love eating broccoli in the morning. So it’s like if I can start a morning that way, it’s just the perfect way.
Alejandro: I love it. So you never had trouble with broccoli as a young kid? Because that’s usually the one food that not a lot of kids grew up enjoying.
Cristine: No, I think they’re fascinating. They look like small trees.
Alejandro: Oh, dang right.
Cristine: But now as a grownup, I just love eating them. It’s just… I don’t know. It makes you feel good in the morning. And of course, when I’m waking up and those months here that I’m living on a boat, I start the day with a swim. But from where my apartment is now, today I went cross country skiing. So I try to do some activities in the morning. Yoga is convenient because you can do it wherever you are. But if I have the opportunity, I rather go swimming or skiing.
Alejandro: I love how… How far is it to the mountains or to go cross country skiing from where you are?
Cristine: In minutes.
Alejandro: That’s amazing. That’s mind blowing to me because when you say, “Oh, today I went cross country skiing.” We have to go to like a four hour ride to Tahoe or something before I get to…
Cristine: Yes, that’s true.
Alejandro: Just you saying, “Yes, I did some of it this morning.” That’s really cool.
All right. Since we’re talking about where you currently are and how easy it is to go cross country skiing, where did you grow up? And if you can give me a little highlight of the community or what did it look like?
Cristine: So I grew up in [inaudible 00:11:51]. It’s a town just a 15 minutes south of Oslo.
Cristine: So I grew up there with my younger brother and my parents. And we had chickens in the garden and my mom had a greenhouse. So it was very green, safe little neighbourhood close to the sea. I remember growing up it was like, we had these chickens in the garden but we didn’t keep them inside because we thought they were supposed to walk around freely. Sometimes which is my brother and I had to run all the way down to the main road or to the beach or far away with sticks and everything to get them back up because they would walk off on some adventure. That was also my first business was to sell eggs in the neighbourhood. I realized that I could sell eggs and make this little cartoons and decorate them. That was my first little job.
Alejandro: You mean like on the… What do you mean by cartoons on the egg itself?
Cristine: Yes, I decorated the eggs and then I decorated the boxes as well.
Alejandro: Oh, that’s really cool. Did you enlist your brother for help or no?
Cristine: No, he wasn’t interested. He preferred to take the eggs himself and mix them with sugar or something just…
Alejandro: I love it. So it sounds like this was very much a farm. Homes are very far away from one another? It was quite a long distance before you can get to a neighbour?
Cristine: So that’s the funny thing, this was really like well I wouldn’t say urban but it was gardens next to each other. So there was a small little forest and some trees that chickens usually hide away. It was quite a normal neighbourhood, I would say.
Cristine: Lots of kids. There was a little school nearby.
Alejandro: And how far away was the coastline from where you live?
Cristine: That was about five minutes to bike. It was a steep hill so to bike downwards five minutes and then 15 up again.
Alejandro: So right there, right next door.
Cristine: Very close. Super close. And I grew up sailing as a kid. I think I started when I was 10 and became an active sailor in dinghy sailing. Everything started with an Optimist, and then Zoom, Laser, 29er.
Alejandro: I’m guessing… I’m not a sailing expert…
Cristine: That’s all different names for boats.
Alejandro: From like smaller to bigger? Is that…?
Cristine: Yes, yes.
Alejandro: Okay. Got it. And did your parents..? What were your parents up to doing at that time? I mean, were they…? Your parents were sailors? I mean, they love sailing as well and that’s how you got introduced to it? How did that happen?
Cristine: We always had a boat but not actually sailboat. My father was a businessman. At the time, he was a CEO for a large retail chain. And when we’re young, my mom was at home with my brother and I and then after a while, she went to school starting to study textile design. And then actually became an entrepreneur who started her own business and a weave shop for yarn and started teaching weaving. And that’s something she still does as well as being a beekeeper on the side.
Alejandro: A beekeeper.
Cristine: Yes. So now they’ve moved to a different house but they’ve got beehives in the garden and even more plants and flowers.
Alejandro: And chickens still or no more chickens?
Cristine: Not chickens. Two dogs, bees and a greenhouse.
Alejandro: I love this. This is such a beautiful setting. I mean, that’s quite the surroundings to grow up in. That’s really cool.
So you started sailing at 10. Was that because of anyone in particular from the family or just one day you decided to…?
Cristine: Well my mom always wanted to sail when she was younger but they could not afford it. My father was sailing as he was a little older. But I think it was perhaps mainly because my mom really wanted to sail when she was a kid so she was like, “Well, you are definitely going to sail.” And then we had a summerhouse. We’re close to the sea where all the kids were sailing in summer. So I think the first time I tried was at that place in summer. And then when I came back home after summer vacation, I realized that that’s something I really want to continue to do. But my mom’s father as well was working on a ship and my great grandfather and great great grandfather did so for generations back. So I think there’s something in the blood perhaps as well.
Alejandro: That’s true. Yes. When you started sailing at such a young age, when was it that you..? Did you already know from a very young age that this is what you wanted to do for the rest of your life? Or how did this love for the ocean actually start being cultivated?
Cristine: I think the love for the ocean started way before the sailing. It was as soon as I could walk, I would basically just walk towards the ocean and put my head under. So I was always very fascinated and curious on the ocean. And apparently they’ve really had to keep a close eye on me because I really would jump into the water and didn’t realize that I can swim. I just love spending time near the sea but I think… I mean, I think all of us has some of that in us. I think we all come from the ocean. But for me, it was particularly strong and I think every summer, I just love spending time on the beach, picking small seashells or investigating what I could find under the dock. And then as soon as I could swim, I would just grab a scuba mask and spend hours and hours… I had to be literally pulled up. But I think it’s also something about the fact that we don’t know what’s under the surface and it changes. So I think it’s this really strong fascination and curiosity that just drives me towards the ocean. It still does.
Alejandro: As you grew older, went to school, why did you decide to go into engineering? What got your attention?
Cristine: I think it was a feeling of, or sense of, if I was studying engineering and became an engineer, I could be making things or making tools that could solve the challenges that we’re facing.
In the beginning at college, I was studying Finance and Economics but I think I had some impression that engineers were the ones that made things and economists were the ones that just…
Alejandro: Talk about things.
Cristine: Talk about money and made it possible or not possible. But then I wanted to be part of the solution or part of those who made things. And I thought that I would miss out on a lot of fun if I went on with Economics.
Alejandro: When did you do the switch? Was it halfway through the…?
Cristine: It was after college. I moved to Barcelona for six months and did some pre-courses there. And when I came back, I realized that I need more Mathematics and Physics to get into the course of Engineering. And so I did that for three or four months or for one semester and then I started Industrial Economics and Technology Management which is the Master Program that I followed, which is actually 80% engineering and then you had done Economics and Finance in addition.
Cristine: So it’s really good.
Alejandro: And where was that? That was in Madrid or that was somewhere else?
Cristine: No, Barcelona. It was in Os, which is just outside of Oslo.
Alejandro: And then afterwards, you decided to study Underwater Robotics, to get an Underwater Robotics degree in Brazil. Did that happen afterwards? Or when did that happen?
Cristine: The Brazil part is part of my Master in Norway. So I was super lucky to have one of my supervisors that was strongly connected to the University in Rio, the UFRJ. And so he was taking a group of students where I was part of to Brazil and to Rio so that we could study Robotics for some months over there.
So it was super interesting because they were really advanced in Robotics and especially Underwater Robotics at this University in Rio. And so yes, it was just an amazing time to actually go there and to see how they’re working because they’re strongly collaborating with the industry surrounding the university. And they have I think still the largest test tank in the world at that university. So they can test some really big systems.
Alejandro: And when you say test tank, how does that actually… You mean a facility where there’s, they just simulate the ocean?
Cristine: It’s like a huge swimming pool where they could also remove the floor and so it got even deeper. I think it was 30 meters deep or perhaps even more and long, long, long so you can simulate waves and wind and the real environment basically. It’s what you simulate within this test tank and then you can test models of oil rigs, or ships, or different structures within this pool.
Alejandro: And a lot of those studies with Robotics, when you’re saying about testing those ships or what, what were some of the primary lessons or experiences having come out from Brazil after being able to learn this program?
Cristine: Well I think I was very fascinated by I remember that’s when I first saw a human-sized robot and also how they could bank and manipulate her arms that could do really advanced operations. And this was back in 2014. So a lot has happened within this past four years but it was really cool to see. But I was very determined that I wanted to make a small auto drone or a small RV that could be simple enough, small enough and affordable to more than this advanced industry.
And so from Rio, I went further north in Brazil to do some field work around corals. And I brought my own little prototype .
Alejandro: And the RV, it’s remote controlled vehicles, right? That’s what it stands for?
Alejandro: And what you’re saying, so you brought…
Cristine: I brought my little prototype when we went up to Bahia in Barra Grande to have a look around the coral reefs up there. I learned how extremely important it is to ensure that the corals don’t die or basically are taken better care of because one thing is the fact that coral reefs are forming the ecosystem and the breeding ground and feeding ground for many, many, many species. But in addition, they are also important wave barriers. So without corals, there are huge land areas that are going to erode out into the ocean. And people are living on these areas. And there’s cities, there’s fisher villages, there’s farming, resorts. Without this, they are just going to lose their land.
Alejandro: Just pure curiosity, how is it that corals without them would… So they provide some form of like control for the ocean to not continue like…
Cristine: Like it basically form walls or stretcher that slow down the waves so that the waves doesn’t pull out all the sand.
Alejandro: Wow, that’s crazy.
Cristine: That’s not unique to Brazil. I mean, I went to Tanzania and Zanzibar shortly after and they have the same issue. So huge, huge land areas that are just going to disappear if they don’t have the corals.
Alejandro: Since that moment, you had mentioned that you already knew you wanted to do smaller remote controlled robots, however you want to call it, remote controlled vehicles or RCVs?
Cristine: Yes. I mean, I quickly decided to call it an underwater drone. That’s because people know drones. So we don’t have to explain what a drone is the same way that you do have to explain what an RV is for people who don’t…
Alejandro: Okay. That makes a lot of sense. So after the Brazil experience, when was it that you actually did an internship with, and you tell me if I’m completely pronouncing this wrong, this company Kongsberg? Or how do you pronounce that?
Cristine: Yes, Kongsberg.
Cristine: So Kongsberg was actually before. Kongsberg was my first meeting with the maritime industry as an Engineering student. So that was back in 2012. And it was only my second year at Uni.
Alejandro: What company? It’s a massive company, right?
Cristine: It’s a huge company. It’s one of the leading companies within marine technology. And they have many different divisions. They also do satellite systems. They’re huge. And so I wanted to work with them to learn more about the industry and about perhaps conspire with a data company that I would like to work with after I graduated. And so I think that’s the freedom you have as a student, right? You can have internships or you can go out and get to know the market or the real world without taking any risk.
So I was working with Kongsberg one year and then the year after I was working with Green Peace. So it got kind of like the full span went from one side to the other. But working with Kongsberg, I got to see the huge systems, the huge RVs that they are using for inspection of subs installation, installation within the oil and gas industry.
So these RVs could go all the way down to about six, seven thousand meters. But they are huge. They’re like a small room basically. And the weight is several tons and you have to have a special crane and RV pilots and a special boat to take it out. I was just amazed that they could actually explore the ocean this way but I also started to question why isn’t there any small consumer version of this RV. Why is this only available for the industry or James Cameron? What about the rest of us?
Alejandro: You’re searching Titanic. So it was during then that you started thinking about a smaller version of all the different things that you were seeing. And what happened after the Brazil? Because for a second, I thought that Brazil was earlier. So what happened after Brazil? When was it that you decided to take a journey through the ocean from Africa to Brazil? Was that many years later?
Cristine: That was actually just a half year after Brazil. So I was accepted. I sent an application to something called eXXpedition which were doing research expeditions with only women on board sailboats all around the world to investigate the connection between marine litter and people’s health.
So together with 13 other women, I was accepted on board this boat and we were a mix of engineers, researchers, marine biologists, doctors and a couple of us knew how to sail. So we were on board this sailboat called Sea Dragon, which is a 72 foot beautiful steel hull sailboat. And we were going to sail from Senegal in Africa to Recife in Brazil. And along the way, we would trawl the ocean surface for micro plastics. And we would take water samples. We had a small lab on board the boat.
So after the journey, we sent these water samples to University of Georgia along with the results from our own blood samples because we tested ourselves for 30 different toxins. And so the research is still ongoing but I learned that I had a significant values of PCV in my blood which is the toxin that was actually forbidden in Norway back in 1980, 10 years before I was born.
So it’s quite interesting how these toxins are still out in nature and we get them in our bodies through what we eat but also you can see that babies that are born today are born with about 10 times the amount of toxins in their bodies as babies that were born in 1970. So this is what you’re accumulating and we get it from our mothers. And this is partly why we were only women on board the ship and on this expedition because it’s extremely important for women to know what you expose your body to because you are handing it over to the next generation.
Alejandro: Had this been done before within this program where…?
Cristine: Once before. So I was in the second and I think there are now 220 expeditions.
Alejandro: That’s incredible. What was the name of the organization again or the program?
Cristine: eXXpedition. It’s led by Emily Penn who’s also doing amazing things on micro plastics and also a lot of clean ups. She’s been to the Maldives. I think she’s still working together with Parley and with Adidas on the… Have you seen the shoes that they made out of…?
Alejandro: Oh, yes of recyclables.
Alejandro: Yes, okay. Wait, and she was part of that?
Cristine: She’s an amazing, amazing, amazing girl. And she together with another girl called Lucy Gilliam, they started the eXXpedition back in 2014.
Alejandro: Wow. I think it’s a non-profit that receives funding to be able to send out… Was this the first time that you travelled or sailed with 14 other people for long distance?
Alejandro: It was?
Alejandro: Can you tell me what are some of the norms? Like what becomes normal when you’re in that situation? Because obviously, very cramped space.
Cristine: Yes, there’s nowhere to go. You’re on the same boat literally for… It took five weeks from Senegal until the whole expedition was finished. And I hadn’t met anyone on the boat before. All of a sudden, we stood there on the dock in Senegal ready to leave and you are like, okay cool.
Alejandro: You’re saying hi to each other and introducing yourselves.
Cristine: Yes. So you got to hope… But it was a really good group of girls. But of course, there’s no privacy on a boat like that. The only place you can go and be by yourself is on the loo. And you don’t want to…
Alejandro: And are you being timed too? Is that like a space that if there’s a big group of people that want to go at the same time, it’s like you don’t have time.
Cristine: And we were divided into I think four different groups. So we had tasks in addition to the science. We were obviously sailing and making food, and cleaning, and cooking. It’s all of this daily routine of things that it eventually becomes routines but in the beginning, everything is just so new and you live like sardines like on top of each other in small bed bunks hanging from the roof.
I remember I had the smallest one like I had another one above me and one sleeping underneath me. And so I had to… When I was the one waking up in the middle of the night going on the watch, I had to… they were filming me by the end of this because I got a technique where I had to sort of swing my legs and jump at the same time and just hope that I was landing in horizontal position. It was crazy. It’s special but you also form very strong connections, of course. But I think the most strange thing for me was the whole perception of time because in the beginning, you felt like you had all the time in the world and I was sure I was going to read all these books that I had on my Kindle. By the end of the trip, it seemed like it was getting busier and busier when we actually just did the same things every day. It was the same routine. It was just…
Alejandro: Was it because of the energy? It almost felt like it required more energy, more attention as time went on?
Cristine: Yes, I think so. And of course, after one week we were out of fruits and veggies except from potatoes so you had only canned or tinned food and potatoes and rice and pasta. So I think maybe your energy level naturally dropped as well.
Alejandro: Depletes. And you mentioned your shift so there are four teams. You broke it down into four shifts in terms of who had the night watch. So how long would you actually be able to go to sleep? How did that calendar even look like?
Cristine: So you had to watch for four hours so my favourite one was the one from four in the morning until eight… because you got the sunrise and you also got to see the stars and the moon. And some of the night watches were just amazing where when the boat was followed by dolphins covered in this bioluminescence like stardust. And it was moon and a pool of starry sky above you and just you’re sailing and it was so silent and nobody else… those were just magical.
Alejandro: Did you ever feel scared at how massive these spaces and you’re just there in this tiny little…
Cristine: You feel very small. I mean, I think at one point we were… the other people closest to us were actually the people in the space station.
Alejandro: Wait, what do you mean?
Cristine: In the European space station.
Alejandro: What on it that they were closest to you? I didn’t get that.
Cristine: Because they were so far from when you’re in the…
Alejandro: Okay. Yes, I got confused. Wow. Incredible.
Cristine: You feel very tiny. But then you get used to it and there was not even once that I felt scared. I think actually as we got closer to land, it’s funny because the first sign that you’re getting close to land is the smell. You smell land way before you can see it.
Alejandro: Wow. How does land smell for people…? Is it a nice smell?
Cristine: It’s hard to explain because you’re so used to it when you’re not out at sea but I think it just smells city.
Alejandro: City? I was going to say, I hope it doesn’t smell like fast food.
Cristine: No. Not fast food. Perhaps a little more like traffic city. I don’t know. It’s just a mix, I think of all the different smells that just hits you when you’re used to being out there and it’s only salt water and salt water and salt water. Nothing else.
Alejandro: How did you…? For water, how did you replenish? Did you have to like…
Cristine: Yes, we had a water maker. So basically turning salt water into fresh water through cold filters. So I remember we had one sink with single filtered water and then the other one was for drinking water. The water had passed twice through the filter. It smells and tasted just like cold… I don’t know. It was not… It wasn’t good. I don’t think we drank nearly enough during that trip just because of the taste of the water.
Alejandro: And for showers, do you just jump in the water? I mean, what…
Cristine: No. We had, I guess that was the single filtered…
Alejandro: That was the single filtered water.
Cristine: Yes, we used that for showers as well.
Alejandro: Wow, that’s incredible. Would you ever do it again?
Cristine: Yes, definitely. Perhaps not with 14 women. I think if I would sail across the Atlantic just for the fun of it, maybe bring two or three friends.
Alejandro: Two or three friends and do it, and go for it. Wow.
Cristine: And I’m sure I definitely want to do that sometime. And not just across the Atlantic. I want to sail around the world.
Alejandro: That would be incredible. So maybe in the near future that might be check mark.
Cristine: I don’t see why not.
Alejandro: After this trip, then when did Blueye Robotics come into the picture?
Cristine: Blueye had already come into the picture actually. We founded Blueye the summer of 2015. And so I had to tell my co-founder and CEO of Blueye, Eric, that actually I was accepted to this sail trip. It was going to happen that fall but the amazing thing was that this would be the perfect arena to test our first prototype of Blueye. So I brought that with me and we agreed that this would just be a super occasion to test our technology and also to show it to the world as a marketing stunt.
Alejandro: You already had a prototype before…
Cristine: Yes. I think if it hadn’t been for that expedition, it wouldn’t be ready so quickly. This expedition kind of turned into a rocket [inaudible 00:46:19] so we just worked day and night to make that first prototype ready. So within only 10 weeks after we founded the company, I was going on this expedition and we had the first prototype.
Alejandro: You said Eric is also your colleague, your co-founder.
Alejandro: So when was it…? You already had this idea. You had mentioned from way before in terms of being able to build something smaller towards the consumer market. What led you to one day say, you know what, I’m going to do it. And how did you do it with Eric? Did you know each other for quite some time?
Cristine: Yes. As I was writing my thesis and I think it was just some weeks before I went to Brazil, I invited myself up to Trondheim, which is the city we started Blueye and where Blueye’s headquarters is today. So I invited myself up there because the Norwegian Technical University is in Trondheim and that’s where the main maritime research and studies is happening.
So I just invited myself up there and we were going out on a trip with research that’s [inaudible 00:47:57]. And on board this ship, this research vessel, that’s where I met Eric for the first time and also the two other co-founders of Blueye.
So there were four of us who then got to know each other and realize that we’re playing along with similar ideas and agreed just to work together and to stay in touch to see how far we can take this.
So when I then graduated six months later, I moved up to Trondheim and we founded the company.
Alejandro: Were they all from there, from that region as well?
Cristine: Yes, they were. So two professors from NTU, from the university. And then Eric, who has about 20 years of experience from maritime industry.
Alejandro: So at this stage, the entrepreneur ventures you had under your belt were selling eggs from your chickens when you were young. When you started this, how did you feel? Were you very excited? Were there other ventures that you had already tested out before and you were able to kind of get a taste for entrepreneurial world? Even though you were surrounded, your parents were entrepreneurs. It’s very important that you had seen it through those eyes but what about now when you began this new venture?
Cristine: Before I went there, I had spent some months in San Francisco studying International Entrepreneurship at UC Berkeley as well the summer before. So I was very serious about the whole entrepreneurial scene. I’m very fascinated about the thought of becoming an entrepreneur for myself. And I think just for me, it was more about I felt that this is what I should do. I really wanted to make the ocean available to more people by using technology. And I felt the ROV I had already written my master thesis and got to know the whole market and all the different applications around the drone. So I felt that I knew what I was going to at the time but of course, you get a lot of surprises. And I think every entrepreneur is quite naive and you don’t have the answers to all the questions that you probably should have some answer to. But I think starting up in Trondheim was just the perfect place to begin because we had such a strong bond to NTU, to the university so we could in the beginning, we were sitting in a small office at the innovation center at the university. So we had access to students. We had access to a test lab. We had access to recruiting people from the university, etcetera.
So I felt like there were a lot of things that were just right for the start of Blueye there. And we were also lucky to get funding from the angel investor super early on, who just believed in us as a team that we could make it and believed in the idea and saw that there’s a need for this product.
And so when he decided with the first two million kronas on the table…
Alejandro: How much is that in dollars? Two million kronas. I’m typing it as you’re… let’s see what comes up. It’s okay. Don’t worry. I’ll add it in here to see what two million is.
Cristine: Yes. I think it was just so many things that were just right at the time. But of course, in the beginning, just being four of us and then quickly hiring another two because we needed someone that understood software and we needed someone who was just an expert on design and then electronics. So we kept employing and hiring people who could tell us what to do. That’s been the whole strategy on how to build a team from the beginning is to hire and attract experts within the fields that we see needs to be covered.
Alejandro: So it’s $300,000. Close to that. In terms of your original theory or hypothesis of doing it for a consumer market, did that end up working out directly going to a consumer market? What was one of the first lessons when creating the Blueye Robotics?
Cristine: One of the big lessons has really been to narrow the whole approach. I think from the beginning, we wanted to make this available to everyone and wanted to go out to every market at the same time which is not the best tactic. I think you have to choose and that doesn’t mean that anyone, you know, that there’s some markets that can’t get our drone. It’s just we have to focus our resource towards one or two markets at the time. And we also saw that the consumer market was not quite ready to attack the product just yet. And then another thing we saw is that if we want to make something completely different than other RV producers or companies, it will cost more than what the typical consumer would be willing to pay.
So we decided to do a pivot because we are in Norway, so we are super lucky to have close access to the markets that had an immediate need for an underwater drone to do inspections. So we went for the aquaculture and the shipping industries. And for them, I mean, aquaculture really needs full control over their nets and installations to see if there’s holes in the nets, if there are some escapes, if there’s the conditions inside of the net are good for the fish.
And then for the shipping industry, it’s extremely important to have a full overview of the hull of the ship. Growth on ship hulls is actually the largest fuel driver. It makes them spend a lot on fuel when you have growth on the hull.
Alejandro: What is growth?
Cristine: So algae, basically just dirt and algae that gets attached to the hull and creates friction which then creates the fuel consumption.
Alejandro: And normally what do those ships do in order to…?
Cristine: Well they have to sometimes there’s things that gets stuck to the hull and they just need an overview or to see what’s going on, if there’s something that’s either it’s on the propeller or other places on the hull so they can simply remove it. Other times they need to go in and hoist the ship and do a full cleaning of the hull. And other times there might be some incidents that happen. They might have bumped into something and they just want to know that the hull is okay, that they don’t have to go into go and hoist the ship.
In order to know what’s been the normal procedure for them today is to go into port and have a manual diver to perform the inspection. And sometimes they have to like days in a line to wait to get into port. And then perform the inspection if the weather allows them to do it at that point. It’s just so inefficient.
Alejandro: And costly. In terms of cost, what does that normally cost a ship to do, to go through that?
Cristine: It varies. So to perform the one inspection with the diver is more expensive than to buy a drone. And then the waiting time is more expensive and to keep on adding and adding. So each day that ship has to just wait is extremely costly.
Alejandro: Wow, that’s really cool. Can you give me a description of the… or what product do you currently have within the Blueye Robotics?
Cristine: So that is the Pioneer and the ultra drone which is a drone the size of a small suitcase. I think it’s 45 x 35 x 25 centimeters and it weighs 8 kilos so you can bring it in your hand luggage. It has four powerful thrusters of 350 watts that drives it up and down in the water column and back and forth. And it has a camera in front and a strong LED lights because as you go deep in the water, you need some additional lights. It takes you all the way down to 150 meters. And connected to your own Smartphone or tablet, you get live video to the surface. And you control it either by touch or with the simple game controller.
Alejandro: Game controller?
Cristine: Yes. It’s a bit like playing. Have you tried Minecraft?
Alejandro: Yes. What kind of game controller like an Xbox game controller?
Alejandro: Wow. That’s crazy. I saw on one of the videos that you had the… I don’t know if it’s an oculus or…
Cristine: It’s a movie mask.
Alejandro: A movie mask, is that what you said?
Alejandro: So you could… that’s how you operate, I take it.
Cristine: Yes, you can. I mean, it’s super convenient especially if you’re out in strong sunlight. To put your phone inside this mask and you get a live video. And that feels literally like you’re diving because this mask is made in such a way that you get the same feeling as if you’re looking on a, I think it’s 50 screen on three meters distance.
Alejandro: Oh, yes. Okay.
Cristine: The work I’ve done with the lens is really good so you get the feeling of being immersed by the ocean and just being down there with the fish or whatever you’re looking at. It’s extremely cool.
Alejandro: When you started the Blueye Robotics, how long has it been from then to now in terms of life of Blueye Robotics?
Cristine: It’s soon to be four years.
Alejandro: Four years.
Alejandro: So within these four years, have you already been working…? I take it you’re already working. You have clients and you’ve been working with the shipping industry. Are there new ways in which you are beginning to realize that there are other ways for which the Blueye Robotics and its products can help?
Cristine: Yes. So I think it’s one of them is the remote boat inspection but also the experience. So one example is, we’re working together with [inaudible 01:03:11] which is the largest tourist expedition ships or company in Norway. And they have expeditions all the way from Antarctic to the Arctic, Amazon and so on.
Alejandro: So that is a consumer. Those are tourists.
Cristine: Yes. So that’s a really cool way to actually get into the consumer market or to show consumers what this product can do without them necessarily buying one…
Alejandro: So while they’re taking their trips in their cruise line to whatever destination…
Cristine: And then [inaudible 01:04:00] is the one who brings the Blueye along with them on boats together with the tourists or the guests and they get to be in this extremely remote area whether it’s Antarctica or the Arctic and see some of the most spectacular wildlife that most of us don’t get to see only in [inaudible 01:04:25] they get to see it underwater. So imagine leopard seals, or whales, or penguins, polar bears, it’s just to get close to some of these animals in a very quiet, safe way. You get the whole experience in your face with this mask or streamed up to the cabins live from the drone. It’s just a completely new way of experien cing nature.
Alejandro: What do you hope this technology would do in terms for ocean conservation and for people as a whole? Because I know that your whole belief had been just to present this technology to people and hope what? What do we hope?
Cristine: I hope that by connecting with the ocean, you get the urge to wanting to take better care of it. I honestly just believe that all of us have to take care or to start caring more for the ocean and handle it with respect. An d I think that instead of pointing fingers or telling people to do so, if you could inspire through experience and let people see for themselves, I think that’s just the simplest and best way to make people care.
Alejandro: What are one or two things that most pe ople do not know about the ocean and its importance? Because people here all the time and it’s old, the ocean is so important and it’s all great. And for most people that are not as curious minded and don’t decide to read more about what the ocean provides. Maybe all they know is that great beach vacations and destinations to just go and swim. But what are things that are really important to us about…?
Cristine: I think… well you said about asking what is that people often… what is that they don’t know about the ocean? And I think what I discovered is that while of course, you can see the spectacular movies and documentaries on BBC, etcetera. David Hefner is presenting them and he’s in Galapagos or some remote super exotic place. But actually, I discovered that by using the Blueye and just dropping it in the water just outside from where I live, which is a busy with a lot of cruise ships and private boats and etcetera and perhaps you wouldn’t think that this is a way to find anything special. Perhaps it’s some mussels and then the rest of it is bottles or trash. But I found some of the most awesome little species like nudibranchs. I don’t know if you…
Alejandro: No, what are they?
Cristine: It’s actually nudibranchs is like a naked snail.
Alejandro: It sounds like a great candy name.
Cristine: No, it’s not. It’s a snail or it’s slugs, I think you can call them. That can be from just a few millimetres up to 10 centimeters. This look nothing like the snails that we have in land. These are like little aliens that come in purple, orange, neon green, yellow – just all the wildest colors and shapes that you can never imagine. They look like aliens or something that’s all just made up and put in the water. And I would never have known there’s these little nudibranchs all over, along in my neighbourhood. So that’s just one nerdy example.
Alejandro: I love it. I saw a TED talk you did where in the beginning of the TED talk, you mentioned that half of the oxygen we get comes from the ocean. Is that correct?
Alejandro: Most people might not ever think about that. I feel like you think oxygen, you think trees.
Cristine: Yes. There’s more oxygen produced in the ocean by some tiny little creatures called sea planktons. And phytoplanktons and they’re all, you know, they’re on the bottom of the food chain. So when we’re discussing earlier the whole expedition I went on across the Atlantic Sea and how we as people affect the ocean ecosystem, these tiny little creatures, I mean, if they go away it affects the whole food chain all the way up to us. One thing is that they create oxygen but they’re also the food that whales…
Alejandro: The foundation.
Cristine: Yes, basically. And krills and small fishes. And if you take them away, you mess up the whole system.
Alejandro: When you say you take them away, how would that occur?
Cristine: They are affected by climate change. They are affected by the amount of plastics that end up in the ocean and breaks up into tiny little micro plastics and nano plastics particles that they digest. And so the bio accumulates their way up into the food chain. And we can only imagine the consequences if we lose them. It won’t look good. Yes, things like that. We’re so dependent on the ocean. For one thing is oxygen. Another is food, medicines, transport routes, energy. And we still with the growing population, we k now that we are going to depend even more on the ocean. We’re going to need even more resources from the ocean. And luckily, we learn a lot more and we know a little bit more about how to handle it properly. But it’s still not done.
Alejandro: You had mentioned that at some point you want to take an expedition, go and explore with a couple of friends. Are there any topics or any questions that you have that you’re dying to get answers from that would most likely end up being your next research venture?
Cristine: I really want to go back to Australia. I want to… At the moment, they’re losing a lot of their corals. But I was lucky to go there a year ago together with the Great Barrier Reef Legacy when they discovered growing corals on depths that they hadn’t seen before within zones that they previously thought were completely dead. So what I want to do is to take the Blueye and to go and find those areas where we have got some proper regulation and actually claim to be marine protected areas. And I want to show those positive stories from where you can see the results of what we’ve done which is actually decide that this is an area we’re to protect because I think all the narratives and all the stories that come from the ocean, it’s all around the negative side of how we as humans affect the ocean by polluting, by overfishing, by over exploiting its resources. But I am sure that there are some positive stories that we can show that comes out from the good things that we’ve done. And I think those are really important to tell. And not just to tell but to actually show so that people can see with their own eyes.
Alejandro: That’s great. are there any recommendations or any thoughts you’d like to share with anyone, part of the younger generation that are thinking of going into ocean like conservation or anything related to the ocean. Are there specific programs that you recommend that truly did change the way you view and perceive many things? Anything you like to share.
Cristine: I think something that really inspired me early on was to go to one of the Maker Faires. I know that you have some really huge Maker Faires in San Francisco. And we have in Norway as well. And to get to one of those fairs and to play around. For me it was also really important to get to know, touch things, to meet things with my own hands just not burying myself in theory books but actually get to try and fail. And I love how failure makes you learn and realize how things are put together and how you can use technology and Physics as a tool. And the fact that failing is just the most effective way to learn. It’s nothing to be afraid of. I think that’s really important to experience at a young age.
So to go to one of these fairs, I think it’s some of the coolest things.
Alejandro: That’s great. Now that you mentioned that, I don’t think that I’ve gone to a Maker Faire in San Francisco. I live in San Francisco and I haven’t gone to one.
Cristine: You should. You have a really, really big one, I think. At least twice a year.
Alejandro: Wow. I’m going to go and check it out.
Alejandro: That’s really cool. All right. Well I want to thank you for your time. And let me know if there’s anything else that I did not ask that you’d love to share, whatever it is. All this is edited anyways but I’m just…
Cristine: No, I don’t think so. I think we’ve gone through…
Alejandro: Oh, there’s one question that I saw EntrepreneurShip. What is EntrepreneurShip about and what are you doing there?
Cristine: So EntrepreneurShip One is a thing I started together with three really good friends who are basically my big brothers – Johan, Sindre, Marcus just two or three years ago. And it started with Johan’s boat which is an X-99, a small sailboat that he put in a new electric engine. And then we used that boat as our platform to invite people on board, to talk about the ocean. How can we solve the biggest [inaudible 01:18:19] regarding the ocean? And we would invite students, politicians, CEOs, investors, entrepreneurs and just to really create the whole essence of we are all in the same boat.
And so we would sail this boat to events and conferences and the big political or gathering that we have every year in Norway. And we will just turn up. We would have underwater drones, of course from Blueye. We’ll just invite people on board to make them really dig into these topics. That’s how it all started. And today, we have connected with [inaudible 01:19:17]. And also with the royal king’s ship. It’s part of our fleet. And one of the biggest hull ships in the world called [inaudible 01:19:34] who wanted to join. And then there’s a big Vendee Globe, I think 70-foot electric sailboat as well who is going to sail around the Earth very soon. Just more and more boats come to us and want to join our fleet and want to be part of this movement. It’s great with the EntrepreneurShip One.
And so this year, Oslo is actually the green capital of the green global capital of the Earth. And so we have politicians, we have businesses, we have everyone just wanting to be part of this movement. And now we’re creating an ocean opportunity lab this year as well. So it’s just a big, big, big movement that started as something very, very small. I think it really shows the engagement and the power of collaboration and the fact that when people come together and share about something, you can do a lot.
Alejandro: That’s very cool. Thank you for sharing that and for your time. And I will let you know. By the way, all this, we can cut it here and everything that I’m sharing with you will just be between us. ww
In terms of the process, we’ll do some editing and we’ll let you know probably a week or two weeks ahead of time when it will launch. And yes, give you the date and everything, links, whatever you like to do. And then that’s it.
And then in terms of, and I think I mentioned this earlier but in terms of long term vision for what originally just started as recording conversations between friends and asking them about their journey or her journey where what they learned and all of that is eventually just make sure that we create this community environment where all the guests of the Podcast once a year do get a chance to actually connect with one another because influential leaders that have been able to do quite some impressive things and just exchange practices, build relationships and take it from there.
So that’s something that I definitely am pushing towards. And I’m very excited about. And again, thanks for the time. I’m going to get more hands on deck to actually help me with a lot of this stuff which is exciting. And we’ll keep you updated. And you let me know if there’s any way which I can be of help and someone from my network can be of help with the projects and the things that you’re working on. I’ll be more than happy to help out in any way that I can.
Cristine: Amazing. Thank you. Yes, I will.
Alejandro: Oh, I’m sorry. Go on.
Cristine: No. I just said that I will keep in touch. Absolutely.
Cristine: And I will let you know if I also come up with some people that I think you should talk to.
Alejandro: Oh, that’s great! Absolutely. I would love that as well. Great. Well then enjoy the… I don’t know what… What time is it over there? Is it really late?
Cristine: Yes. It’s a couple of minutes past midnight.
Alejandro: Oh, my god. I didn’t even think of that until right now. Like wait a second, it’s already… Okay. Well get some rest. Thank you so much for your time. And enjoy the rest of the week. We’ll be in contact.
Cristine: Thanks. You too.