If the ancient Greeks had known that over 2,00 years later, we’d be walking through their Acropolis just like it was back then. Stroll through the Erechtheion, enjoy a closer look the bronze statue of Athena Promachos - virtual reality has just made time travel at least a virtual reality.
The virtual recreation of the Acropolis is one of the features of Unimersiv, an app for smart learning that works on Samsung Gear VR and Oculus Rift. Using virtual reality (VR), Unimersiv helps users learn about the ancient Greeks in a whole new way. VR is familiar to most of us from games, where it improves the gaming experience, or from scientific research. Educational applications are probably not the first thing that comes to mind. Unimersiv uses VR to create different learning environments for subjects like history, space and human anatomy. When it comes to learning, pupils and students are not the only ones who tend to get bit lazy when extracting all the facts from dry books. Even motivated adult learners sometimes ignore sources when facts are presented with little entertainment value. The Unimersiv team is convinced that mixing education with fun will greatly improve learning impact.
“Research has shown that students retain information much better when they actively participate in the learning experience,” Unimersiv founder Baptiste Greve explains. “This is why we decided to recreate historical environments in VR. You can basically teleport to the place you are interested in learning about.” After two weeks, the human brain tends to remember 10% of what it reads, 20% of what it hears, but 90% of what it does or experiences.
Started in January 2015 as a platform for VR content, Unimersiv has now been turned into an app with multiple educational scenarios such as the Acropolis, the International Space Station, prehistoric Stonehenge, the Titanic, and an interactive exploration of the human body.
Unimersiv releases a new learning experience every two months as a fully immersive 3D model. Each scenario requires a lot of research before the animated 3D model can be created. For the Ancient Greece scenario, the team actually went to visit the ruins of the Acropolis in Greece.
Unlike 360-degree videos, users can actually move around in the scenarios. “For the ISS, users actually float around like astronauts,” Baptiste explains.
Besides offering their product to museums and schools, their website also features some courses that replicate and improve the classroom learning experience. So if you've ever been interested in learning basic Chinese language skills, you might give the course a try.
Over the long term, Unimersiv plans to expand it app to public libraries and more schools. But don’t worry parents, the Unimersiv app is not a gaming app your kids will become addicted to. “Users usually spend 10 to 20 minutes inside our scenario”, Baptiste says. It will be interesting to see if 10 to 20 minutes of VR ultimately improves grades.
Unimersiv won the European Youth Award 2016 in the category Smart Learning.