Macunx VR: Memory Palaces in Virtual Reality
A Collaboration with the University of Westminster in London
By combining medieval memory techniques with modern technology, we are redefining the way we learn, understand, and retain information in our minds.
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Why Virtual Reality?
Spatial, not just Visual
As human beings, we are all spatial – we live in a 3D world. Just getting up in the morning and getting dressed requires us to know the precise locations of dozens of objects. We can learn new spaces quickly and easily, but we often ignore our huge spatial capacity when it comes to learning academic subjects.
With VR, we can translate that amazing spatial ability we all possess into academic learning. We can explore our own imaginations in 3D, actually seeing mnemonics in space with our own eyes.
Three Modes in Macunx
1. In Free Build mode, you’ll have free reign to create memory palaces however you like. You can create your own environments in VR and use them to learn the subjects of your choosing.
This mode requires you to know how to build memory palaces already. It is essentially an extension of your own imagination, allowing you to see your imagination in front of you with your own eyes.
2. In Guided Mode, you’ll be able to select a module for a specific subject you want to learn, such as anatomy or French Grammar. You’ll then be walked step-by-step through the process of creating a memory palace for that subject.
Even if you have used memory techniques before, figuring out how to apply them to large and complex subjects can be really challenging. Guided Build removes that challenge and means you can get started learning real and practical subjects as soon as you are familiar with the basic concepts of memory techniques.
3. Instructor Mode. Do you build memory palaces like a boss? Want to share your knowledge? Instructor mode allows you to create your own Guided Modules, which you can then market on the Macunx platform.
Whether it is for your 7th grade history class, or your new recruits who need to get to grips with company processes, Instructor Mode allows you to create guided modules for any subject of your choosing.
The name ‘Macunx’
The word Macunx is short for Magical Quincunx, and is a 2D design developed by Dr Aaron Ralby. This geometric pattern uses the quincunx (the shape of the 5 side of dice) to create a memory structure that allows you to learn 100 pieces of information in sequence and by number. The inspiration for the structure came from a 12th century treatise by Hugh of St. Victor on how to memorize all 150 Psalms by number and line number.
As a 2D structure, the Macunx can be hung on a wall in your memory palace like a painting. This multiplies the amount of information you can store at each location by a factor of 100!
Using Macunx VR
Information storage and retention is an important part of learning – it’s difficult to understand many subjects if we don’t have the parts and pieces that make up that subject.
Spatial memory techniques are amazingly effective for those with dyslexia and other special educational needs. By converting text and number into image and space, you circumvent many of the challenges of dyslexia.
From medicine to law, any subject requiring large amounts of knowledge can be quickly mastered using Macunx. Even company specific processes can be delivered in guided modules.
Demo on BBC Click
In late 2016, Macunx VR was featured on the BBC’s tech show, BBC Click.
Some of the demo footage we shared in the programme can be seen to the right and screenshots of the VR project in Unity can be seen below.
The screenshots show how to start setting up a memory palace for Spanish verbs, with the boy pointing representing the indicative mode and the bottle of conditioner showing where you would store the conditional tense.