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Why we open-sourced Calcflow, our flagship consumer software

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Earlier this month, we open-sourced our flagship software, Calcflow. Developing the world’s first VR graphing calculator was a two year long labor of love. We are excited to release it into the wild.

Matryx is not the first tech company to go open source with one of our main products- Tesla released the patents to all of their vehicles in 2014. And while the Matryx team creates software, not Teslas, we share CEO Elon Musk’s sentiment:

“We believe that Tesla, other companies making electric cars, and the world would all benefit from a common, rapidly-evolving technology platform.

The Matryx team, however, is not just interested in the dissemination of our technology, but also the spread of the ideas that drive it. By opening access to Calcflow, we hope to introduce the public into entirely new ways of thinking. To accelerate this, we opened up discussion on HackerNews, where we received some awesome feedback and support for the project and its philosophy. In many comments, HN community members echoed our team’s beliefs, sometimes articulating them better than we could ourselves.

Throughout classroom, business, and public demos alike, we’ve found that first time users of Calcflow immediately start viewing math in new ways. They become privy to a world in which intuitively understanding complex numerical relationships does not necessitate jumbled symbols and extreme abstraction. Two-dimensional visualizations of vector calculus have existed for decades, and while computers have improved the quality of these images, they simply don’t compare to immersive toolkits like Calcflow. HN user gmueckl:

Moving through the data set in room scale VR is completely different from seeing and manipulating a 2D projection of it on a screen. Exploration is much more intutive (just move your head!) and the perfect depth information that you perceive feels almost like an additional input channel to the brain.

Initially, this improved exploration or “additional input channel” is completely foreign to the human brain, even to those familiar with common VR entertainment applications. Attacking big STEM concepts in VR seems to light up new neural networks, enabling us to process them with the synergy of our whole brain. Natural movement and visualization send users down fresh cognitive pathways.

Voi_perkele:

[Stereoscopy and motion parallax, together] yield a very strong sense of “3D depth”, called stereopsis. Having controllers with six degrees of freedom (6DOF: translation along and rotation about the x-, y-, and z-axes) to manipulate and interact with 3D data should be superior, as it is no longer necessary to map 2D mouse inputs to 3D operations which would also decrease cognitive load…

At Matryx, we believe the true power of VR lies in its capacity to assist our brains. It’s tools, not toys, that will be the first truly killer VR apps.

Libbum:

I haven’t seen a reason for the purchase [of a VR headset] at all. A tool like this for visualisations, though, is a use case that I see as possibly beneficial.

It is this feeling that the Matryx Team wants to share with the world. We hope that open-sourcing Calcflow, we can invigorate the discussion and energy around VR’s underdeveloped potential as a form of cognitive enhancement.

Alongside all the excitement, the HN community also offered up a healthy dose of skepticism and critiques. Many users were quick to note the concerns the Matryx team anticipated. gmueckl:

Collaboratively analyzing visualized data with VR would require hacks that render abstract avatars of co-workers and remove a lot of the informational content of direct communication. With AR and a direct line of sight all of these obstructions just go away.

Collaboration is undoubtedly the next frontier for Calcflow. We’ve already begun exploring the possibilities of shared VR workspaces. As far as an AR implementation, well, we’ve got something very special coming in the next few weeks. 🙂

We hope our projects, and your ability to participate in them, gives you an idea what the Matryx team is all about. The world of crypto and decentralization is today’s Wild West. J_s says it best:

…it appears this is funded by a [Token Sale]…Too bad that basically short-circuits to “smells fishy” to me right now; hopefully they can pull through and build a track record of credibility.

We won’t let you down.


Why we open-sourced Calcflow, our flagship consumer software was originally published in Matryx on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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