Lifeliqe has been turning a lot of heads lately with it's next level 3D model and augmented reality application. The fact that they have now become official education partners with the HTC Vive through the companion VR Museum app really highlights how Lifeliqe are at the cutting edge of educational technology. We caught up with CEO and co-founder Ondrej Homola to discuss the app, VR and more.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
I’m the CEO and co-founder of Lifeliqe. I’ve been in the education business for over six years now and before I got into it, I worked for a multinational corporation. I was quite successful there but still felt like I wanted to do something on my own. One day I was having a beer with my friend Daniel Sklar who worked as a 3D graphics designer in a large gaming studio and he showed me what he can do. I was like: “Dude, this is great stuff. We gotta figure out a meaningful way how to use it.” So we tried architecture first but finally ended up in education, because we figured that 3D models are a great way of explaining difficult scientific concepts that are very hard to understand. That’s where we started Corinth. We managed to build several large libraries of 3D models and teachers loved those, but we wanted to go further.
We found out that there’s no platform for educational 3D and also wanted to unify the way of deployment of our content to both schools and individuals, so we built Lifeliqe. And over time, it just became so much more.
Lifeliqe is a truly unique platform for education. What do you think makes it stand out?
You know what, I could be giving you tons of arguments but I guess the most important factor is what the people who are actually using the app are saying. We have many teachers using the app, including ADE’s (Apple Distinguished Educators) and we received loads of great feedback.
First of all, we hear a lot we help to spark lightbulb moments - the moment everything clicks together and suddenly makes sense. Interactive 3D content that students use has just so much explaining power. It’s also very important for teachers that Lifeliqe makes students curious, eager to learn more. This passion for learning goes beyond attention, attention is only one benefit that stems from the passion.
Educators love the possibility to prepare their own 3D enhanced resources in Lifeliqe, but also the fact they can let the students get creative and learn by doing and sharing. Last but not least, today students use technology such as AR or gaming apps on their smartphones but the learning content at schools lags behind. By providing teachers up-to-date yet simple to use technology, we empower them with the tech that students love, and thus help deepen the connection between the educator and the student.
And that’s just the smallest part of what we heard so far. The best piece of feedback that came recently was from Common Sense Education which voted Lifeliqe among Top20 EdTech for 2016. What a great honor for us!
What sort of educators do you feel can benefit the most from Lifeliqe?
Every teacher who is looking for rich content that is proven to grab students’ attention! In today’s world it’s getting more and more difficult to achieve that. And no wonder, teachers are often using tools almost older than the students themselves.
Lifeliqe, on the other hand, helps the students to understand difficult topics and makes the learning more exciting by visualising the concept in interactive 3D. We have quite robust data to support that. There are also studies that confirm that using 3D in education has positive effects on learning. So the benefits are undeniably there.
How can educators get a taste of what the platform is capable of?
Since Lifeliqe runs both on iOS and Windows, they just have to download it from App Store or Windows Store and start exploring during the one month free trial. They can cancel the subscription anytime they want but I think there won’t be many of those. Once you find out how helpful Lifeliqe is, it’s hard to go back.
Regarding Lifeliqe VR Museum, the free version is available for download on Viveport or Steam, with the full version coming soon. We’re also experimenting with mixed reality from HoloLens, some of the recent BETT show visitors could already get the taste.
The launch of the VR Museum via the HTC Vive is very exciting. What lead you into the world of VR?
We were fascinated by VR ever since we had the chance to try out the first prototypes of the current devices. Once it got into the mainstream and all the hype around it started, we too decided to hop on the VR train and started experimenting with it.
We were lucky our efforts got noticed by HTC Vive, they decided we would make a good team and so they chose us to become their strategic partner for education. Since then, we successfully launched the VR Museum and started piloting it on number of schools with great reactions from both teachers and students. And we’re still looking for more, if anyone was interested!
What's next for Lifeliqe?
There’s a lot to be looking forward to. We definitely want to keep exploring new possibilities of deploying our content. For us, 2017 is gonna be a year of looking into web platforms for our content and we will also keep on pushing in educational VR.
We have also partnered up with Rich Lamb from University at Buffalo to study effects of VR on learning STEM subjects and the results will be out in Q1 of 2017. I’m really excited about it, because I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s going to be big.
And of course we will keep on adding new models and lesson plans to our app to keep it updated and to let the teachers spark more lightbulb moments than ever.
How can our readers keep up to date with new developments in Lifeliqe?
They can either check out our Facebook and Twitter, where we share the latest news all the time or go to our webpage lifeliqe.com and read the blog, which is full of useful insights and recent developments around Lifeliqe. They can also find links to all our products there and learn what are they about. And if they want to get involved, just shoot us a message.
Ondrej thank you so much for your time. We really look forwards to seeing where Lifeliqe goes next and exploring the future of VR in education with you.