'Mind Palace' Captures Students' Imaginations


March 08, 2018

A BBC television program inspired one group of computer science students to create a virtual reality program to help people memorize information.

The "Method of Loci" is an ancient memorization practice, identifying a well-known place or item with a piece of information. An episode of the Sherlock series featured the method, calling it the Mind Palace. A Senior Design team of computer science students are taking the idea into the virtual world. Their program for the HTC Vive VR system lets users create their own "palace" interior and input photos to associate with whatever they need to memorize.

Computer Science seniors Maxwell Baker, Ross Brandt, Katherine Phillips and Julie Prichard continue to refine their "Mind Palace" program, running tests on a Vive system provided by CEDE & the Computer Science department and a Vive in the Next Gen Tech Bar (NGTB). Their faculty advisor, Dr. David Schroeder, has extensive experience with VR applications.

"I find it exciting to see what our students can do when they approach new technologies and look for creative ways to apply them," Schroeder said. "Virtual reality seems to be exploding in popularity, and it's great that our students are pushing the boundaries of what is possible."

virtual reality test
Julie Prichard watches junior Mychelle Culver navigate through a virtual reality room in the Mind Palace program. The laptop shows what Culver experiences.

 Virtual Reality program test
By adding photos and objects into a virtual space, users of Mind Palace may be able to memorize and recall information. The program's student creators included a set of textures to give the walls, floor, and ceiling.

senior design team
Seniors Katherine Phillips, Maxwell Baker, Julie Prichard and Ross Brandt collaborate on design elements of the Mind Palace.

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