A virtual world in which you can learn foreign languages has just scooped a major award worth more than €110,000.
Paul Groarke and Garrett Hussey’s company, RendezVu, uses a “gaming approach” to helping students learn foreign languages. They have received the 2009 David Manley Emerging Entrepreneur Award.
RendezVu is also the name of the virtual world they have created, a place you can go to talk, listen, read and write in your chosen language. The aim is to help students to “think on the fly” in the language they are learning.
How it works
RendezVu features a wide range of scenarios, including cafes, train stations and banks, and the virtual inhabitants you encounter are controlled by artificial intelligence and have the ability to think, learn and know about their surroundings.
“The number of people learning English is expected to top two billion in the next 10 years,” Paul Groarke says.
“There aren’t enough English tutors in the world to cater for all the students who want to learn English – so we realised that the solution had to be automated.
“By ‘immersing’ students in real-life settings where they must use their knowledge, RendezVu gives students a deeper and more dynamic understanding of languages, through using them in context.”
In future they hope to offer the system on gaming platforms such as the PlayStation and Xbox. A beta version of their product will be launched in the UK in the second quarter of this year.
Paul and Garrett were presented with their entrepreneur award by the Tanaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mary Coughlan, and Iona co-founder Dr Chris Horn.
Their prize is €10,000 in cash and more than €100,000 worth of mentoring and consultancy services from several leading companies.
The company, based at UCD’s Nova innovation centre, was set up in January 2008 and has already won several other awards.
These include the regional final in Dublin of the Bank of Ireland Bright Ideas Challenge. The team will go forward to the national final of the competition later this year.
Visit the Rendezvu website