Hacker Focus: Cell VR

Now that the dust has settled, we wanted to take a moment to highlight some of the staff’s favorites over HackingEDU. This time we feature a group that made a lasting impression on our team and are keeping up with their project after the event! (You can read up on Why Hackathon Projects are Ephemeral)

Cell VR is an interactive learning experience in which a user gets a sandbox environment inside the cell! Cell VR was created by Kristin Agcaoili, Anish Kannan, and Connor Smith. The user is able to combine say glucose and a mitochondria to create ATP. It allows the user to learn from experience and exploration rather than rote memorization. The inner working of a cell and how they interact is an awesome idea! The team was our 3rd Place Overall Winner, creating a project that you can check out more here!

The team wanted to build on a VR project and create something that could genuinely help students. HackingEDU allowed them to follow both platforms, fulfilling a goal they’ve been looking for. We sat down with them and talked about their experiences.


HackingEDU: So what was the motivation for building Cell VR?

Cell VR: Cell Biology is hard to visualize. We’ve seen so many examples of what a cell can do from the outside or the textbook. But they’ve never been able to really experience it.

We wanted to make an experience that students could truly learn from, and could be entirely immersed in. We also wanted to make sure no prior knowledge was required to learn from Cell VR. We chose Biology because it’s an accessible topic that worked well with the immersive input mechanism we had chosen, and perfectly integrated both educational aspects and entertainment into a single project. — Cell VR

HackingEDU: The whole concept is something we just had to highlight. One of our cofounders stopped a meeting and squeeled in excitement! So we want to know where you’ll be taking this next.

Cell VR: This project was a lot of validation of our ideas. We’re currently officers in an art club at UC San Diego and have been working with a number of people on updating the graphics. We really want to expand to plant biology and other areas. Our goal is to get it to as many people as possible. We tutor for groups and do a number of projects and got to demo it for a group. Our professor took notice and the school has ordered 100 google cardboard for the school and program.


Hearing stories like this just fuels our small team and motivates us to keep going. We encourage you to share your successes with us and reach out to the community for support for ongoing projects.

You can read more about Cell VR, get updates on their progress, and follow the project here.