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Librarium has launched its virtual reality memory platform in the Oculus Quest 2 VR headset that will allow people to memorize things for test preparation.
The memory palace is a mental visual aid for remembering things dating back to Socrates, and experts say it improves retention by 30%. So Librarium founder Duane Mathes assembled a team to build the platform in both VR and mobile apps so people can remember things more easily. One of the first practical applications is to help medical students study for their MCAT tests.
Idaho Librarium-based Eagle has partnered with Meta’s Meta Reality Labs division, as well as global education services provider Kaplan, to provide a “gamified” platform that makes memorizing things for tests more fun, engaging and effective .
Librarium has spent the past year creating its first app for Meta Quest 2 and also has companion apps on iOS and Android where you can create digital flashcards to use in the Meta Quest 2 VR app.
Mathes said the company started with VR, but has a roadmap to expand to other kinds of platforms as the technology takes off. The company is preparing to raise a round of seed funding.
Librarium targets middle and high school students’ test prep app to boost memory retention and performance by combining proven study methods with leading edge, patent-pending VR technology — all in a fun and engaging gamified environment.
The app is now available for purchase in North America from the Meta Quest Store for $20 and will also provide options to purchase best-in-class premium content developed with Kaplan, the leader in test preparation.
“We believe there are tremendous opportunities for innovation in the $11 billion test preparation market,” said Mathes. “Using patent-pending VR technology, we are creating a highly immersive environment that incorporates proven visual memorization and retention techniques, based on the concepts of the Memory Palace conquered by Socrates in 400 BC.
He added, “As a result, students can increase long-term memory retention by 30% or more in a fun, engaging platform that increases the amount of information retained by more than 200%. And, through our partnership with Kaplan, we’re delivering high-quality content that exceeds the highest industry standards while leveraging all the incredible benefits of virtual reality.”
The Librarium app for Meta Quest 2 will launch with over 100 curated “decks” of test prep cards, covering a wide range of topics, from environmental science and biology to philosophy and sailing.
In addition to a wealth of subject content, the Librarium will also offer a complete, stand-alone MCAT-focused package, created in partnership with Kaplan, with 35 decks (nearly 1,000 flashcards) for additional purchase, as well as other standardized test preparation packages in near future.
Users can also create and share their own decks through the Library community.
How users learn with Librarium
After purchasing the Librarium app for Meta Quest 2, users will be prompted to download the free Librarium companion app for iOS and Android, where they can create their own custom, virtual “decks and flashcards” on any topic and this content will be immediately available in the Librarium’s VR study experience.
Terms added to the app will receive an associated mnemonic object, generated by Librarium’s smart algorithm, which helps with memory retention and recall. From there, users will engage with their study material in a highly gamified and immersive VR world filled with environmental puzzles and an engaging story.
The Librarium applies deep Game Theory principles to its design to inspire students to return to the app and continue their studies.
“Our partnership with the Librarium facilitates new and innovative ways for students to access our proven test preparation content, adapted and redesigned for this exciting environment,” said Jennifer Moore, executive director of pre-med programs. at Kaplan. in a statement. “These premium decks mark Kaplan’s continued progress in the world of VR, and we’re thrilled to be working side-by-side with Librarium.”
All Kaplan students enrolled in a fully tutored, live online, in-person, or on-demand MCAT course will have free access to the Librarium app’s suite of offerings.
Mathes spent a decade in Asia and learned Mandarin in China. Since he was not Chinese, it was a huge challenge to do the memorization verbatim. So he had to become good at memorizing things. He then started a game studio and went on to work at Intel in research and development. He helped build early apps for Google Glass and was an executive responsible for game development at Black Box VR. All this work prepared him to start the Librarium.
He was studying for a business degree during the pandemic and found he had to use his memorization techniques again. He started Librarium in August 2021 and now has nine people.
“I had this brainstorm about how we could take these abstract concepts like economics terms and turn them into a tool that would be useful for everyone in a really general way,” Mathes said. “Everyone could benefit from these memory palace techniques that usually require a lot of mental discipline. Our dream is to make this kind of learning available to everyone.”
As a game designer, he looked at the compulsion loops that kept players coming back again and again, and thought about how that would work for memorization.
The company created a demo and showed it to Meta, who liked the project and wanted to bring it to the Quest 2 platform. Likewise, the company met with Kaplan’s top educators and this led to a partnership.
While VR is a good way to learn, Mathes acknowledged that it is a limited platform in terms of mass market access. He agrees that it will be important to take the 3D learning app and make it available on 2D screens.
“Education is a huge opportunity and imagine you know, you can just look ahead to the future and you can absolutely see it’s going to be like Ready Player One,” Mathes said.
A study by Kaplan and another from the University of Maryland found that memory palaces could boost retention by 30 percent.
With a memory palace technique, where you visualize something you want to remember, it’s easier to remember things that would normally be tedious to remember, Mathis said. It is not unusual for medical students to spend eight hours a day memorizing things.
The app has a colorful art style reminiscent of World of Warcraft. Over time, the company hopes to expand into new regions, new languages and new platforms.
“We have some really exciting opportunities,” Mathes said.
When it comes to education, Mathes believes that it has not traditionally embraced new technologies and new ways of learning very well.
“I feel like a lot of the educational games out there were designed by educators, which is great for educational content, but not great for audience engagement,” Mathes said. “And so I feel like we have an opportunity here to define a category that’s extremely attractive and a lot of fun.”
In the Oculus Store, there aren’t many apps that focus on new ways of learning.
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