By: Harriet Cook
Macunx VR, our platform for building memory palaces in Virtual Reality, has been live on Kickstarter for three weeks now - only one week to go! We hit our Â£3,000 goal in the first few days and have been working really hard to promote Macunx VR everywhere we can - we've now hit Â£5,368, which means we're 179% funded!
It's not too late to pledge if you'd like to help our Kickstarter - you can find us here!
Below is a brief overview of everything that we've been up to over the last few weeks - launch events, TV appearances, press mentions, blog interviewsâ€¦!
We kicked off our campaign with a launch event at Barclays Rise in London - Macunx VR and UKVR Launch: VR for Good. Over 100 people joined us in Whitechapel to discuss how VR has huge potential in non-gaming spaces - see photo below!
TRYING OUT DEMOS AT OUR LAUNCH EVENT!
Aaron's talk focused on how we can use Virtual Reality to unlock the power of our spatial memory - by putting memory palaces into Virtual Reality, we'll be able to train our minds to remember huge amounts of information with incredible ease and amazing retention rates. Aaron was particularly keen to flag up the potential our VR platform has for children with dyslexia. We've been trialling our memory techniques with dyslexic children in Cambridge recently and the results have been truly outstanding - you can read more about the trials in this blog post and Aaron has shared a case study here. It was a real privilege to have Dr Kate Saunders, director of the British Dyslexia, join us at the event - her keynote focused on how visual and spatial systems can help circumvent some of the challenges posed by dyslexia. You can read more about the event in this blog post from Away with Words or here from Virtual Perceptions, a brand new blog from Thomas Ffiske focusing on VR companies in the UK.
AARON TALKING ABOUT MACUNX VR AT THE LAUNCH
Macunx VR has been all over the place in the press too:
- Cambridge News - Matt Gooding takes a look at Macunx VR in the first few days of our Kickstarter campaign and publishes a few photos from our launch event.
- Digital Trends - Luke Dormehl discusses Macunx VR's potential as an educational tool. He asks whether Macunx VR could become the MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) platform people are hoping for and highlights our long-term plan to become a market where users can create their own guided modules - he calls it an App store for memory palaces!
- VR Focus - Another article focusing on how Macunx VR shows that VR doesn't just have to be for video games - this time from Peter Graham! Peter highlights what we hope to achieve with the money we've raised so far - with Â£3,000 we'll be able to hire a skilled Unity developer to work alongside Westminster University to build the core functionality of our Free Build mode. Â£10,000 would aid development and help us finish several of our guided modules so please keep pledging and help us hit this!
- Greenlight Games - Spencer Havens, a blogger interested in the impact games can have in the world, shows how Macunx VR is another example of how games can be used to achieve real, tangible impact in the world around us.
- Medium: Roblem VR - Roblem VR, a popular VR Twitterer, published a post on Medium, speaking about the history of memory palaces and how our VR platform will work. He sketches out what a memory palace could look like, using toads and turtles sitting on bales of hay!
- VR Gamer - A post in Italian about Macunx VR! FedeRasta writes a really nice post here about all of the applications Macunx VR could have and how it is a particularly interesting application for language learners.
- VR Journal - A short article from Aaron Crissman, sharing how we hit 75% on Kickstarter in just a few days!
- Virtual Reality Observer - Another short article, this time with a focus on how Macunx VR is a creative platform and VR, the tool that stimulates that creativity.
- Hypergrid Business - A short piece on how we reached our goal in 3 days and are now pushing towards our stretch goal, Â£10,000.
And you can see us talking about Macunx VR on Cambridge TV and LabTube - click on the images below to view!
We're now in the last week of our campaign and really pushing towards our Â£10,000 stretch goal. Please help us by pledging if you can and sharing Macunx VR on Kickstarter with friends and family you think might be interested. Macunx VR has so much potential to transform the way we learn so we really want to raise as much as possible in this last week.
As soon as the campaign finishes, we'll be giving all our backers their rewards and we'll continue our development work alongside the fantastic team at Westminster University. At Linguisticator we'll be developing and publishing some memory modules - numbers, presidents of the USA and Countries and Capitals of the world. You can check these out here.
Thank you for all of your support!]]>
Yesterday I witnessed something very, very cool. It was my third memory session with a severely dyslexic boy of about 11 or 12 years of age. Though he struggles with all forms of reading and writing, he has shown a high degree of intelligence and aptitude in using spatial memory techniques.
In our first session, we did an exercise with numbers and he learned his own phone number for the first time. We also did an exercise with spelling and he learned to spell the word "beautiful" correctly both forwards and backwards. In our second session, we focused more on spelling and reading. I observed him reading a text, taking dictation, and spelling aloud. The challenges he faced were immediately apparent, but so too were the workings of his mind.
As we worked and reworked the same passage with the same vocabulary, I noticed a consistency in this boy's reading and spelling - a consistency both in how he approached the same words over and over, and in how he dealt with linguistic elements across the passage. It seemed to me that he had - consciously or unconsciously - developed his own system for how he thought words should be spelled and written. When the reality of a word's spelling did not match his internal system, he could not recognize the word. In other words, the mismatch between his system and the agreed-upon spellings of the English language caused the majority of his confusion.
During that second session we stored the spellings of a few words that he struggled with. Perhaps most striking was the word unusual, which he spelled onuguwal. Even after copying out the word correctly moments before, he continued to spell unusual in his own way when asked to write the word without looking at it. After using memory techniques, however, he was able to spell this and two other words correctly without any trouble.
Yesterday was our third session, and I had not seen him in a couple of weeks. Given his extreme challenges with reading and writing, I designed an exercise to test a hypothesis. Based on what I had seen, it seemed possible to change this boy's internal system through memory techniques. I already knew that he would be able to actively produce correct spellings; the question was whether active production would lead to more immediate passive recognition.
I began by dictating a passage I had written using the vocabulary we had learned in the previous session. I was pleased to see that he had retained the correct spellings of the challenging words. He had forgot the endings on two of the words, but he was able to refresh them quickly. We had not met in about three weeks, and he had not reviewed the material in the interim, so his retention was actually quite impressive.
After reviewing the words we learned in the previous session and storing a complete spelling of a new word, he was able to read the passage fluidly at sight. More importantly, however, when I gave him yet another passage with the same vocabulary that he had not seen at all before, he was able to read it aloud without stumbling or sounding out words. He had no trouble with this new passage at all - a stark contrast to the previous session in which he had to sound out the words the same passage over and over each time he read it.
To boil this down, what I witnessed was a severely dyslexic boy who - through adopting a spatial framework for understanding spelling - was able to overcome the confusion previously presented by text. He was able to recognize and read aloud without hesitation challenging words that he had previously had to sound out phonetically each time - even when he had just seen the same words moments before. He described being able to recognize the whole word immediately, rather than needing to break it apart into its letters and sounds.
This is incredibly exciting. It means that by adopting a different way of understanding and processing textual information, someone with dyslexia can not only learn to produce correct spellings, but can also fundamentally change the way he or she processes and understands text.
There is still more work to be done, and certainly a single case study cannot be held as representative - but such a powerful case study was too good not to share in a blog post!
Support our Kickstarter for VR Memory Training HERE.