Basically, I take my mobile phone — most students already have these, smartphones — and I plug it into this virtual-reality headset, a low-cost headset. And now what I can effectively do is, I can literally step into this virtual world. We’ll have some of you in the audience also get to try this, because it is really something that you have to try to fully feel how immersive it really is. It literally feels like I just stepped inside this virtual lab. Do you see me up on the screen?
Great! Awesome. So basically, I have just turned my mobile phone into a fully simulated, million-dollar Ivy League laboratory with all this amazing equipment that I can interact with. I can, for instance, pick up the pipette and do experiments with it. I have my E-Ggel, my PCR and — oh, look there, I have my next-generation sequencing machine, and there I even have my electron microscope. I mean, who’s carrying around an electron microscope in their pocket? And here I have my machine, I can do different experiments on the machine.
And over here I have the door, I can go into other experiments, I can perform in the laboratories. And here, I have my learning tablet. This is an intelligent tablet that allows me to read about relevant theory. As you can see, I can interact with it. I can watch videos and see content that is relevant to the experiment that I’m performing right now.
Then over here, I have Marie. She is my teacher — my lab assistant — and what she does is guides me through this whole laboratory. And very soon, the teachers will be able to literally teleport themselves into this virtual world that I’m in right now and help me, guide me, through this whole experiment. And now before I finalize this, I want to show you an even cooler thing, I think — something you cannot even do in real laboratories. This is a PCR machine.
I’m now going to start this experiment. And what I just did is literally shrunk myself a million times into the size of a molecule — and it really feels like it, you have to try this. So now it feels like I’m standing inside the machine and I’m seeing all the DNA, and I see the molecules, I see the polymerase and the enzymes and so forth. And I can see how in this case, DNA is being replicated millions of times, just like it’s happening inside your body right now.
And I can really feel and understand how all of this works. Now, I hope that gives you a little bit of a sense of the possibilities in these new teaching methods. And I want to also emphasize that everything you just saw also works on iPads and laptops without the headsets. I say that for a very important reason. In order for us to really empower and inspire the next generation of scientists, we really need teachers to drive the adoption of new technologies in the classroom.
And so in many ways, I believe that the next big, quantum leap in science education lies no longer with the technology, but rather with the teachers’ decision to push forward and adopt these technologies inside the classrooms. And so it is our hope that more universities and schools and teachers will collaborate with technology companies to realize this full potential.
And so, lastly, I’d like to leave you with a little story that really inspires me. And that is the story of Jack Andraka. Some of you might already know him.
Jack invented a new, groundbreaking low-cost test for pancreatic cancer at the age 15. And when Jack shares his story of how he did this huge breakthrough, he also explains that one thing almost prevented him from making this breakthrough. And that was that he did not have access to real laboratories, because he was too inexperienced to be allowed in.
Now, imagine if we could bring Ivy League, million-dollar virtual laboratories out to all these students just like Jack, all over the world, and give them the latest, greatest, most fancy machines you can imagine that would quite literally make any scientist in here jump up and down out of pure excitement. And then imagine how that would empower and inspire a whole new generation of young and bright scientists, ready to innovate and change the world.
Thank you very much.