For more than a year, Lifeliqe has resided at Upload Collective in downtown San Francisco. It’s a wonderful place full of young, energetic and innovative people who are making their dreams come true. It’s also a go-to place if you’re interested in VR and a hub for events, meetups and discussions.
Lifeliqe is at Upload almost since it opened, so we had plenty of time to get to know all the people involved. Most notably the boss of it all, Upload CEO Taylor Freeman. A great visionary who’s helping to make VR world accessible to broad public as well as giving VR startups the opportunity to work on their next big thing. He’s been recently voted among 30under30 by Forbes magazine and he definitely earned it.
Lifeliqe CEO Ondrej Homola is a good friend of Taylor as they meet around Upload quite a lot. As it happens when two visionaries talk, the discussions are usually very interesting and worth sharing. So we decided to put both in our VR Museum studio and just let them chat. And it did the trick. See or read what happens in our 1st part of VR Museum Talks!
My question is, the VR learning in education is obviously a huge space, so where do you think is the best fit for the technology in the whole space?
I think it comes in a spectrum on a timeline. I think right now one of the largest opportunities would be looking at supplemental curriculum. We’ve got kids that are learning hard sciences, maybe it’s hard for some of them to comprehend physics, chemistry. Being able to offer that in an immersive environment where they could actually interact with it. That’s a structure maybe similar to Khan academy, that actually comes after school, where they go 1 on 1 with an instructor, whether it’s a virtual or real space. But I think it’s gonna come down to teachers getting really inspired around this technology and see how it can support their existing curriculum and then convincing the schools to buy the gear and then getting it into the classroom. But I think in the future there will be major push towards AI driven individualised learning as well converging with immersive technology. You have a student, that’s struggling with chemistry of physics, but instead of being in a classroom with 20 or 30 students, the AI can work with them 1 on 1, so it’s fully individualised learning. By being inside a fully immersive environment you can really see if they are interacting and really understand the concept. Then you can adjust the experience to help them really understand it.
But K-12 is really only a small part of the whole education, so do you believe that K-12 would be the sweet spot for the VR?
Taylor: Looking at the corporate side of things, looking at manufacturing, looking at construction – learning the plans of building, learning the plans for future construction, I think that would be one area. And you can sort of expand education as you said, so it can include so many things. But when I think about education I think about how do we train the people in the skills they need to succeed in certain industries or life, socially. I think it will likely start with K-12 education, but we are already seeing sort of outside use in mechanical engineering or design and those spaces as well.
I know that you have a large library of 3D models. What do you think is actually the most engaging for people and which of your experiences are actually the most helpful to start with?
I think the most engaging experience is the one you never have the chance to try out yourself. So every one where we bring the user into the microworld, becoming able to explore cells or explore really microscopic things like DNA, RNA etc. That’s super exciting for us and also where we can put you into the outer space, where you can explore the Hubble telescope or into jurassic time, where you can meet the dinosaurs for yourself. That’s the power of CG that can give you the photorealistic experience of the things we can hardly see ourselves. That’s really not only the thing of VR, but it’s a thing of surprise, that you can see something you’ve never seen before.
How to start really depends on the users you’re talking about. So we know that the students are all about the VR, with all the schools pilots we did the kids were just excited, I also heard one of the kids say “well I can just skip the school right now”. If we wanna succeed, we wanna make sure that it really helps teachers. That means make it convenient, how to help with adoption, that’s the holy grail of technology in the classroom. Let’s see how we will succeed.
So basically utilizing scale, utilizing points in space that are nearly impossible for humans to hit and then also getting the kids engaged and make sure the teachers have the possibility to actually engage alongside them.
What will happen in education in VR in next year (2017)? It’s been quite a crazy year for VR…
I think it will come down to content that gets created. At the moment there’s content that mirrors some of the curriculum like Pearsons for chemistry, like when you’re struggling with chapter five and boom! You’re in chapter five VR supplemental pack and kids know that and parents know that’s available. I think that’s the moment. So it’s really down to content creators to make something that’s actually viable. I think there’s a great value in having a large catalog of models, but being able to have a structure and a flow so you know that this plugs into existing curriculum that really ads a lot of additional value to let people actually understand how to engage.
So do you expect something on the hardware side that would support the education part of the VR?
I think that accessibility-wise it’s a little early to expect to have 20 Vives or Rifts in a classroom. Especially without subsidies in schools, I wish it would really be closer than year away from where we are. So when you look at it this way you’re thinking more in a low-end device like Cardboard, GearVR, a plastic mobile VR headset. And even though that I prefer the full immersion VR, I think that there’s value to be able to see something three-dimensionally, even if it’s using a joystick or a gamepad or touchpad on Gear VR. I think there will be different types of experiences that will start creeping in. Kinda if you wanna learn anthropology or history, so you can just be standing in front of the pyramids and be looking around. I think that can be something a teacher can do to be inspiring and engaging.
Stay tuned for the second part of the video – it’s coming soon with more insights!