About this project
Macunx VR is a new platform for building memory palaces in 3D and virtual reality. As people, we are very good at remembering places we've been and things we've seen. We are not so good at remembering text and number. What if you could learn a new language or all of anatomy with the same ease that you learn the layout of a new building or park? With Macunx VR that will be possible.
We've hit our initial funding target of £3,000 in just over 3 days – can we make it to £10,000 and get the guided modules built? Help us take this further!
What is a Memory Palace?
A memory palace is essentially a mental library for learning new subjects – it is an ancient technique that uses our inherent spatial and visual capacity to learn, retain, and recall large amounts of information quickly and effectively. With Macunx, you won't just have to rely on your imagination – you will be able to see your memory palace come to life before your very eyes.
Macunx is being developed by Linguisticator, a company that specializes in memory and language training. Company founder, Dr Aaron Ralby, has spent years developing ways of applying memory techniques to learning large and complex subjects. This expertise will inform the development of all aspects of the Macunx VR platform.
What can I use it for?
The potential applications of Macunx VR are limitless. You can use memory palaces to learn any subject and any amount of material or information. Here are a few large and complex subjects that can be learned quickly and easily when they are learned spatially:
- Periodic Table
- Historical Events
- Chinese Characters
A memory palace is the fastest and most effective way for learning, retaining and recalling new information. Whether you need to learn material for your profession, or you are a student looking to master your exams, you will achieve faster and longer lasting results through spatial memory techniques.
Macunx and Dyslexia
Throughout the spring of 2016, Linguisticator has been conducting trials of memory techniques with dyslexic children in Cambridge. The results have been phenomenal. Children as young as eight have been able to quickly learn multiple 11 digit numbers both forwards and backwards within their first session. What's more, they have been able to recall these numbers flawlessly at their second session even a week or two later.
In addition to numbers, these children have also learned how to spell long and complex words using spatial memory techniques. By removing text and number from the learning process – and replacing them with space and image – we can essentially level the playing field for those with dyslexia. This will open up learning to dyslexic children and adults alike, providing an alternative means of mastering a standard curriculum. Being able to do this in virtual reality with Macunx could be life-changing for these individuals.
1. Free Build Mode
All of us already have a platform for building memory palaces – our own imaginations. But if we can see our imaginations come to life literally before our eyes, the retention and recall of those images will be far more powerful. In free build mode, you will be able to create and manipulate mnemonics within space however you see fit. You will be able to build memory palaces of any size and shape and for any subject you choose.
2. Guided Build Mode
The basic principles of memory are simple: convert textual and numerical information into images, and use space to organize those images. Applying these basic principles to large and complex subjects, however, is not as easy as it may first seem. How do you build a memory palace for an entire language? How do you set up your spatial system to be able to recall all the Presidents of the US not only in sequence, but also by number? In guided mode, Macunx will offer modules for specific subjects, walking you step-by-step through the process of creating memory palaces to learn these subjects.
3. Instructor Mode
Once you have learned how to create and use memory palaces for different subjects and different types of information, you will be able to register as an instructor on the Macunx platform. This means you will be able to create and market your own guided modules. Whether you are a company director creating training for your staff, a teacher creating resources for your students, or just an individual fascinated by a particular topic, you will be able to create the instruction necessary to walk others through the process of learning new subjects spatially and visually in virtual reality with Macunx.
The inspiration for Macunx VR actually comes from the Middle Ages. Memory palaces were used widely throughout the medieval period both to learn existing texts and to compose new works of literature. Scholars are reported to have performed amazing feats of memory. How is it possible to learn the entire Aeneid, be able to recite it forwards and backwards, and give any line number at will? With a properly constructed memory palace, just about anyone could perform such feats as these.
The name Macunx is a contraction of the "Magical Quincunx." It is a memory structure devised by Dr Ralby that can be adapted to learning many different types of information. It was inspired by a 12th century text by Hugh of St. Victor describing how to memorize all 150 Psalms by Psalm number and by line number. The Macunx is a powerful tool for organizing information spatially and visually in a way that can also be mathematical and precise.
The VR platform for Macunx is currently being developed as a student project in collaboration between Linguisticator and Westminster University in London. We have already created and refined the processes for building memory palaces in 3D and tested these in workshops and private tutorials. We have also already created demo memory palaces.
In order to speed up development of the core platform to allow users to choose their own mnemonic images and manipulate spaces, we are looking to hire a Unity developer during the summer of 2016. Our initial goal is to create the free build module by the autumn of 2016. This will, of course, be with a view to adding the guided modules over time, and eventually opening up the platform to instructors from all disciplines and all corners of the globe.
Many of the pieces of Macunx VR already exist, and we intend to use Trimble's Sketchup to supply large numbers of mnemonics for people to use. Sketchup has its own library of 3D models – 3D Warehouse – which will be integrated into Macunx VR for quickly importing buildings, spaces, and 3D mnemonics. By using existing technology and platforms, we are confident we can pull the right pieces together to get Macunx up and running quickly.
The perks for our Kickstarter campaign include language and memory training through our existing platform, Linguisticator. This will teach you how to build memory palaces and apply the techniques to learning different subjects, including languages. Use your imagination or Macunx when it's ready! We are about to put out several new courses in memory.
Our courses work on a subscription basis, so you'll get access to the courses you select for the time period chosen. We don't normally offer annual subscriptions, but if you sign up for one on Kickstarter you can save a good chunk of cash!
There are a few great things about these perks:
1. They already exist, so there's no risk of not getting your perk
2. You can start as soon as the campaign is successful
3. Once Free Build mode is ready, it will be freely available and you'll know what to do! You can then create all your memory palaces quickly in VR.
About the Founder
Dr Aaron Ralby is a linguist and expert in memory training. He first became interested in memory as a skill during his PhD in medieval studies at Cornell. When he learned about the feats of memory performed by scholars in the Middle Ages, his first reaction was that he would personally never be able to perform such feats. When he found descriptions of their techniques, however, he began putting them into practice with immediate results. He has subsequently spent the last several years figuring out how to apply the techniques to different subjects and different types of material, including entire languages. In order to do this, he developed a methodology for mapping out the complete grammatical system of a language, which can then be learned quickly and effectively through a spatial memory palace.
Please help us revolutionize the way we learn and make Macunx VR a reality!
Risks and challenges
The risks for this project lie entirely with the technology development. The memory techniques and their application to specific subjects are already fully developed and proven. This project is all about making those memory techniques accessible through virtual reality. We know, as well, that the technological components for creating this platform already exist. The key risk, therefore, is that pulling these pieces of technology together may take longer than anticipated. We are confident in the development capabilities of Westminster University, and also that the technological requirements of this project are not particularly strenuous, so it is unlikely that the platform will require significantly more time and effort than we anticipate.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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