Touchable Universe

More funding for Touchable Universe haptics project from Innovate UK

More funding for Touchable Universe haptics project from Innovate UK

Innovate UK has awarded a further £385,000 to the Touchable Universe consortia following outstanding success in phase one of IUK’s first ever EdTech competition.

The initial proof of concept funding enabled Touchable Universe to establish whether haptics could be used to improve learning outcomes. The consortia’s technology enables users to touch objects that exist only as digital objects. This means that teachers can bring difficult concepts like lung health, and soundwaves in low pressure atmospheres, fully to life.

Having beaten off over 250 applicants to win an initial £80,000 for proof of concept work, Touchable Universe then found itself up against the seven other stage one winners bidding to develop prototypes with a view to launching them in 2017.

Ann Marie Shillito, speaking for the consortia, says:

“This second, and much larger grant, is a real vote of confidence from one of the UK’s most important commissioners of innovation. 

In phase one, we demonstrated that it is entirely feasible to build haptic apps that bring subjects to life by adding realism and a sense of touch to the experience. Working with teachers, education designers and students, we defined the requirements for vivid learning experiences that linked directly to the national curriculum, with a particular focus on ‘hard to teach’ topics.

These were then evaluated by educational and business partners, including teachers and an international distributor, against a matrix including cost, usability, educational value and market appeal. The results were outstandingly positive and resulted in many expressions of interest from potential partners.”

Alix Morris, a teacher at Windsor Park Middle School in Uttoxeter, which played a major role in phase one, says:

‘One of the best ways for pupils to learn something, and remember something, is to experience it and this allows them to do that. ….. I honestly think that the whole package will become invaluable to schools and I just think it is really exciting, I really do!’ 

The consortia began work in November 2015 and will complete in January 2017, by which point they will have a number of haptic educational apps ready for launch.

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