Alla Vovk from the Performance Augmentation Lab participated in the ‘Reality, Virtually’ Hackathon, organised by the MIT media labs the second year in a row.

Participants from all over the world came to Boston, Massachusetts, to hack reality and develop innovative software solutions in areas such as VR/AR for Good, Film & Journalism, Health & Medicine, Learning & Education, Industry, Art, Productivity, Advertising & Monetisation, Social Networking, and more.


Visiting the MIT Media Lab was an amazing experience! You get to work on every stage of the product life-cycle in a team, which is something that you can be pretty isolated from during a regular job — for example, I did both development and Ux design work and got to work really closely with other UI designer and artist. I do believe that hackathons are a great way of getting things done in the fastest way possible. They help you to polish your creativity by forcing you to think in different ways. Hackathons are also very valuable for making friends and meeting new people. — Alla Vovk


Alla lead a team developing a smart glasses Augmented Reality app for building Memory Palaces to enhance memorability, deploying for the Microsoft Hololens. Find below a demo video and the more detailed project description.


AR Memory Palaces: Inspiration

We all have moments, where we need to recall long lists of ideas &emdash; whether it is studying for a course, remembering words, or simply memorizing items on the shopping list. The Ancient Greeks used mnemonic devices called Memory Palaces for this, creating an imaginary place in the mind that acts as storage for knowledge.

The Memory Palace is a concept that allows a user to walk through a familiar place in their mind (for example, a living room), attaching the objects to remember to distinct elements of the surrounding. Along the way, the user can use these elements to better recall the list of concepts attached. The idea is that people generally have better memory for objects in a place that they know, than they have for abstract ideas or words in isolation.

What it does

We introduce learning into the space you live in. In our application, you become a Sherlock Holmes and map out a concept trail in the environment, helping you to build up your own memory palace and removing the cognitive burden of creating this map on your own in your head. We are using AR and Microsoft HoloLens to build this knowledge map in AR.

Using spatial mapping — one of the key features of the Microsoft Hololens — we let people use the surrounding physical environment as a memory palace (your living room, office, etc.). Imagine your room as a whiteboard, where all the things you want to remember are augmented objects (3d models, voice recordings, text annotations, images) and you can place them in your own space. The application allows you to build a cognitive map using different objects from the library and attaching them to the location in the physical world you want to associate them with. This method of loci allows you to connect the location with a specific concept you are trying to remember.

For example, imagine we are learning the periodic table of elements. You need to remember facts about potassium, so you select the object associated with that element, i.e., a banana, and place it onto the chosen place (such as on a pillow). Once the object is placed, you can also add further annotations to the objects. In the end, you can complete a quiz and try to recall all the objects (and connected information).

Try it out: