Nara Edtech: Immersive Technologies in Education

Nara, founded by three young entrepreneurs, is the startup of educational technologies that develop new technologies and content for more effective use of virtual and augmented reality technologies in education.

Founded in Çanakkale Teknopark in September 2014, has always kept education and 3D technologies in its focus since its foundation. In 2017, it was institutionalized as Nara Eğitim Teknolojileri AS.

One of the founding partners Zafer Karadayı is an academic in Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University and 20-year educational technologist. Zafer Karadayı is continuing to work on a doctorate for the use of virtual reality in education. Another founder, Ömer Yavuz, is an expert on 3D modeling and animation. Ömer also established an animation studio, a 3D modeling-animation course classroom and an urban transformation company. After these jobs, he developed augmented reality applications for the real estate sector in New York for 2 years. The last founder, Öner Yavuz, is still a computer-engineering student. But he has been working on 3D modeling and game programming for 8 years. Öner also has an international Unity developer certificate from Unity Technologies and international 3DS Max Certificate from Autodesk. In addition to the founders, Nara's team has three full-time experts in their field. Also, 4 other experts in their field are also supporting the nara team on a part-time basis. Everyone in the team has either a Unity developer certificate or Autodesk's 3D modeling-animation program certification. When we asked how such a team is forming in a place like Çanakkale, an interesting story came out. Karadayı, who took the first step to bring the team together and set up Nara, explained the stories as follows: “I am a grandson of a miner who had passed away on a working accident and a groom of a retired miner. The team that who established Nara and the first employees of the team were actually like a jewel under the ground. For example, Ömer were making accessories at his father's stationery shop that also sells military goods. Even in the first years when we came to Istanbul for business, we went to Eminönü and bought accessory stuffs such as stones and other accessory parts. Öner was a student who did not hope to finish school. Our first employee Cem, which graduated from material engineering, was a waiter at a shopping mall in Çanakkale before he started working with us. In fact, they all had great potential. But in order for this potential to emerge, they had to come together and be guided for the right purpose. And Nara actually did it. Now this team is raising a technology start-up with a global vision in Anatolia. We believe that there are so many jewels in Anatolia. As long as the miners discover them and provide them the right environment.

Nara's 3-year story has had many successes. The first major successes were picked up by the 2016 Etohum startup. In 2017, this was followed by TİM / TEB Startup House and Türk Telekom Pilot. The only Turkish startup that could be among the “25 startups to be followed in Slush” in The Innovator magazine's 2017 Slush, which is Europe's largest startup event. It has also entered into 50 promising future startups (Bett futures 2018) selected by Bett, the world's most important education and training technology event. Besides Turkishtime magazine's December 2016 issue of “Turkey will shape the future of the 100 startup” between the have managed to enter. Nara, who set out with a global vision at the beginning, has gone a long way towards this goal. It was established in a small city of Anatolia and it has experienced its very disadvantage at first. Especially because of the fact that the market, qualification staff, mentors and activities are mostly in Istanbul and Ankara, it is very difficult. But now they are explaining that they are turning this disadvantage into advantage, Karadayı: “We were very difficult in the beginning. Nobody believed that such advanced technology could come from Anatolia. They did not trust us. But both the acceleration programs we participated with were both prejudiced with the activities we were participating in and the products we developed during this period. We can even say that we are now enjoying the advantage of being in Çanakkale. Because Çanakkale is a great place to design and code. Everyone in our team is happy to be in Çanakkale. Many of our friends from outside the city also want to settle in Çanakkale and join our team.”

So what Nara does? The technology that Nara gives to both TIM / TEB Enterprise and Türk Telekom Pilot is “Teacher guided virtual reality education support system”. We asked why you have done such a project in, Karadayı, “We are an education company, although we follow high technology closely. Both Ömer and me graduated from education faculty. We therefore attach great importance to the fact that the work we do is educational and applicable to the field. Virtual reality is the technology we know best. But unfortunately, virtual reality is a technology that is still in its infancy state. There is a way to get more but it is developing quite fast.  One of the biggest problems was the disconnection of the student from the class, students friends and most of all his teacher by wearing his glasses. Teacher guidance was indispensable. We have developed “Teacher guided virtual reality education support system” which focuses on how to solve this and guided the teacher through the tablet learning process. With this system, the students wear VR headset and the teacher can summon their students to the desired VR environment with their tablet. In addition, the teacher can see where the students gaze at the tablet. In fact, this section is almost identical to Google Expeditions. But the system that we have developed differs from here. First, the environment in which the teacher summons his students is a 3D environment. In addition, the teacher can intervene in the 3D VR center through the tablet. For example, for speed / motion problems, the teacher can teleport students into the room of speed problems. They see a large table in front of them and on it there is two cars ready to move towards each other. First, the teacher enters the speed of the first vehicle (V1) from the tablet. In the meantime, students will immediately see the teacher's changes in their VR environment. When teacher enters the speed of the second vehicle (V2) and distance between vehicles then clicks to start, the simulation starts in front of the all students. As the vehicles start to move toward each other at defined speeds, the formulas and values are displayed on the students' screens. Now our goal is to populate a content library for this system. Regarding our current state, we are looking forward to investments. If we can get an investment, we will start populating AR content into the system from the Q3 2018.

Nara has set up its own academy and named it Nara academy, for both the improvement of its own team and the development of children. Firstly, last summer, Nara Academy provided education for children between the ages of 8 and 12 with 3D modeling and coding, progressively plans to educate high school students, adults and teachers.