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February 5th, 2018

Tribe: Using Music and Virtual Reality to Redefine How We Learn

Nathan Twyman Content Creator VR AR VU Dream Writer

Nathan Twyman, VR & AR Content Creator

Virtual Reality has the potential to disrupt the entire education industry and Tribe VR is using music and technology to do just that.
 
Today I interview Tom Impallomeni, CEO of Tribe VR and trailblazer in VR education. Also, the Founder of VU Dream, Mark Metry interviewed Tom Impallomeni on the Humans 2.0 podcast, about education, entrepreneurship, and of course virtual reality. 
Virtual Reality is arguably the most widespread impactful technology out there today. We’ve seen VR make its way into nearly every industry and its real-world applications continue to inspire and fascinate us.
 
VR for education is particularly interesting, the technology enhances the classroom experience and will eventually replace the classroom entirely. Such immersive technology has the potential to completely revolutionize the way we teach and learn.
 
Schools and universities constantly stress the importance of “learning by doing”, but many of them fall short of this intention. Using immersive technologies, we can actually achieve a simulated, yet genuine hands-on experience.
 
Physical activities have proven to be a fantastic method for acquiring any sort of skill or experience, and VR can be a mediator for exactly that.
 
Learning skills within a VR world is great for a variety of reasons:
  • It’s cheap. Much cheaper than physical equipment.
  • It’s safe. No negative consequences to messing up in the VR world. This gives people like medical professionals the ability to practice as much as they’d like before jumping into the real thing.
  • It’s awesome! Training in VR is both fun and effective. The perfect mix needed for a truly hands-on experience.
One company currently leading the VR education movement is Tribe VR. This next-gen business helps people learn real-world skills through practice within a VR environment. Their first class? DJ training.
Tribe’s platform enables anyone to learn how to mix music like a real DJ. Even with no prior experience, you can enter the VR space and quickly learn the ropes.
 
Tribe has teamed up with Pyramind, a leading Music Production school in San Francisco and DJ Kryoman, a multi-talented EDM producer. The teams have worked together to create course content, music tools and more. This cooperation has led to an engaging, immersive, and effective DJ course.
 
I had the incredible opportunity of talking to Tom Impallomeni, co-founder, and CEO of Tribe VR. Here’s what he had to say about Tribe:
 
What sparked your interest in education within virtual reality?
 
I’ve been fascinated with the inefficiency of traditional learning methods (classroom learning, reading), and the high drop-off rates for online courses (>90%), and what this means for humanity.
 
We live in a world where the entire history of mankind, and all its knowledge, is available through Google and other resources, yet the average adult spends only 5 minutes per day learning, compared to 50 minutes per day on Facebook and social media.
 
Our founding team has been working in VR and AR for the past 3 years, and over this time we have all independently reached the conclusion that THE killer application of VR/AR is learning real-world skills.
 
Why start with a DJ school, out of all things?
 
We are passionate musicians and frustrated wannabe DJs. When we first started to consider use cases for our Tribe platform, we realized that learning to DJ is perfect for VR:
 
– The options available to wannabe DJs are: go do DJ school, teach yourself (buy kit, watch videos), use apps on mobile, desktop, and iPad.
 
– Each of these is imperfect.
 
– The range of controllers available are mindboggling.
 
– Many people resort to asking friends to teach them.
 
– Watching videos and repeating what you see is full of frictions.
 
VR removes these frictions and inefficiencies. Using 6DOF — the space around you — and making things interactive, Tribe removes the barriers to entry. Users can learn by doing, not by watching or listening. An AI mentor guides people through the process. Fans can repeat lessons, and practice in freeplay mode, over and over. It’s just a better overall way to learn.
 
We built a product to scratch our own itch, and to solve a personal problem, and in creating this DJ school, we hope to inspire a new generation of creators.
 
 
What is it like to work with a professional music school and music producer? What insights have they brought to your DJ school?
 
We have a vision to build the tools and platform, and to partner with sector specialists to develop content using our platform.
 
For this reason, it’s important to work with the best in the business. The power of working with a professional music school is that we gain expert input on product direction, artists and students with which to stress test our products, and a professional environment (and access to hardware) to enable us to compare the experience in VR versus in the real world. All of these aspects are invaluable. We launched Tribe VR DJ School in partnership with Pyramind — a music production company in San Francisco that also has its own extensive technical mentor network, all of whom have deep experience in specialist areas. Having access to these resources is invaluable.
 
 
What was or is one of the greatest challenges you and your team have faced so far?
 
I would say that building VR–first startups is somewhat tricky at present, given that the industry has seen slower-than-anticipated headset adoption. This has trickled through into investor sentiment. It’s fair to say it’s harder than a year ago to raise money for a VR startup right now.
 
We have been successful in raising money, but it’s taken longer than anticipated due to the state of the market, and it has forced us, as a team, to operate as a pseudo-ninja-development studio.
 
On balance, I think this is a good thing. The opportunity to be early into the app store within a technology field that is going to happen — of this there is, in my mind, no doubt — is a good one. So doubling down when the market is slow makes a ton of sense.
 
Do you think music will play a large role in the VR industry? If so, how?
 
Yes it will.
 
I think for two reasons:
 
1. Music needs VR and AR.
 
The industry has changed dramatically over the past 10 years, with CD sales disappearing and streaming sales not fully replacing them. There has been a shift to live, a focus on big ticket artists. MTV and music videos have somewhat disappeared.
 
VR and AR offer artists new ways to connect with their audiences, and new creative dimensions to experiment with. At a time when music needs new revenue streams and creative formats, VR and AR offer a huge opportunity to artists, labels, creators and fans.
 
2. VR and AR enhance music like never before.
 
Music in VR is cool, period. The ability to harness spatial audio, to create music, to learn music skills, to attend live events, to experience the power of music immersivelyall of these are new exciting frontiers for music.
 
Some of the most powerful experiences I have experienced personally are music-related.
 
And ultimately, music is one of the key “food groups” of life, a great human connector. If one views VR as a social medium, music provides the soundtrack, the common glue, to many of these experiences.
 
Do you think education will play a large role in the VR industry? If so, how?
 
Yes. Education is a critical part of the VR industry.
 
Some of the most successful current VR companies have focused on enterprise training — their B2B business models are sustainable and growing, at a time when consumer VR opportunities are more limited.
 
But the big prize for VR learning is down the line. The opportunity to improve learning, to enable learning together in VR, to repeat things to cement learning, to make learning interactive.
 
For me, all of this points towards learning being THE killer use case for VR, beyond games.
 
I understand Tribe is both a VR and AR company. How will you implement AR within your teachings?
 
We see VR as perfect for in-home, immersive, long-form learning.
 
AR enables short-form learning, on the go, throughout the day. We see AR as enabling students to practice on the move.
 
The Tribe toolkit and platform enables people to learn immersively throughout the day. AR and VR are enablers of this type of learning.
 
What’s one thing you’d like readers to know about Tribe?
 
We are early in our journey — and the road ahead encompasses DJing, music production, but also learning beyond music.
 
We are expanding our team and our partnerships at the moment, so if you are
 
a. Interested in working with us to create better ways to learn
 
b. A partner with an interest in developing cutting-edge, immersive learning content…
 
…please get in touch with us via www.tribevr.io
 
What’s in store for Tribe in the future?
 
We’re starting Boost VC accelerator in February.
 
Right now we are constantly improving our experiences, building out our team and seeking kick-ass partners.
 
We view this as a global opportunity, and our mission is for Tribe to be a household name when it comes to new forms of learning. We want to improve learning and make learning fun.
 
Do you have a favorite track to mix?
 
Anything by Kryoman obviously. 😉
 
Also I’m partial to dropping the occasional Deadmau5 track — Ghosts ’n’ Stuff is a good one to get the party going…
 
You can learn even more about Tribe VR by checking out their blog.
 
Thanks for reading!

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