Biology textbooks aren’t exactly the most stimulating way of learning about the human body and that’s why a new British start-up has decided to bring our innards to life through augmented and virtual reality technology. The Virtuali-Tee, developed by Curiscope, is a T-shirt with a stylized skeleton design on its front that connects with a smartphone, tablet or VR headset. A related app then replaces the wearer’s T-shirt with everything from pulsating organs to the blood stream, so that users can see how the body works up close on their screen. CEO Ed Barton explains how this gadget really can make learning fun.
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How did you come up with the idea to create immersive virtual reality adventures?
We've been working with virtual reality for over a year now and we felt there was a really exciting opportunity to use it to inspire kids by taking them on adventures. Virtual reality allows kids to go on multiple mini field trips, every day, wherever they are.
What is the main goal of Curiscope?
We want to create adventures that connect kids to subjects they're disengaged with. We want to make exciting adventures that take learning out of the classroom and into the home — the kind of adventures that don't feel like learning, but feel like play and feel like fun.
How does Curiscope work?
The Virtuali-Tee app looks for a design that's specific to your T-shirt and then when it sees it, the app tracks an animated model of the anatomy to your body. It doesn't see into your actual insides but what it does do, is create the ultimate way to learn about the human body. This works in a group, with friends or on your own in selfie mode and in the mirror.
Our objective is to get the most out of mobile technology; we want these experiences to be enjoyed on your existing devices and not to require expensive hardware. Our technology is actually very similar to a normal app and will be delivered through the IOS and Android app stores — we're just doing something a little different with it. The virtual reality mode is a really exciting way to learn and lets you teleport inside the body into awesome experiences in the heart, stomach and bloodstream.
What are the benefits of this device for those who use it?
The Virtuali-Tee makes learning relevant. When you're looking at a textbook it's easy to forget that the human body isn't just a diagram, it actually exists inside of us. It's very hard to truly grasp this without visualizing it. The power of that is endless; it's a great tool to encourage children to looking after their bodies, avoid smoking and keep their bodies healthy. It's also incredibly exciting and this encourages a further interest in science, which is a big focus of many governments.
Can this device help children learn about other subjects besides anatomy?
The Virtuali-Tee is designed specifically to be an exciting way to learn about the anatomy. Curiscope is far broader though and we're looking to build experiences about every subject you can imagine. And not in the ways you might think, our Math experiences, for example, will be far more interesting than just numbers on a page. We're going to create adventures, around every subject, which are so awesome, you don't realize that you're learning.
– By Daniel Casillas