Mind mapping in VR with Noda

One of the advantages of VR is being able to fully immerse yourself into another location with just you and your new environment to entertain yourself, it can be a great place for Zen moments, relaxing and even being productive. Recently while hanging out in a virtual room and discussing with people what they work on, I was introduced to Noda, a mind mapping application for VR used for note-taking, planning, mind dumps, brain storming and lots more. Mind mapping was not really something I had done before, I do love to get my thoughts onto paper but I had never really thought about doing this in VR, traditionally its a 2D application thats used but bringing things into VR means you get the added concept of space and more than one angle to things.

As with many things in life, it seems all I needed was a reason. Recently my house was destroyed in the CZU lighting fires in California, since then its been hard to keep track of what I need to do and how they are all connected and what the overall picture looks like, this turned out to be my mind VR mapping use case!

So, lets talk Noda

Compatible headsets

  • Valve Index
  • HTC Vive
  • Oculus Rift
  • Oculus Quest 1/2
  • Windows Mixed Reality

Compatible deployment methods

PlatformCompatible / Notes
SidequestSideload via sidequest here
Steam (PCVR)Installed from Steam or link on Steam site
Oculus Quest App StoreComing soon (hopefully July 2021) – Private beta invites via emailing the Noda team ([email protected])
Oculus PCVR App StoreAvailable to install for Rift or for use with Link/Airlink on Quest 1/2 from App Store
Oculus for BusinessAPK can be downloaded from Sidequest site and distributed via OFB

Getting hands on

Noda has a free version which will get you up and running fast but has a limitation of 3 maps, the free version also provides multiplayer functionality, on the Quest you can use speech to text, I found this was not available on the PCVR version.

The tutorial is quick and very easy, within 20 minutes I had my first mind map created and I certainly enjoyed doing it.

It was a very relaxing environment to be in, the controls are very straight forward and the lack of complex structures in the software actually made it super easy to learn and easily achieve a mind map of your thoughts.

I have to say, rebuilding a house after a house fire is very stressful, I found that getting this information out of my head and into a virtual space enabled me to understand the big picture, also allowed me to show family members why I had been so stressed recently and what we were dealing with!

You are also not on your own, Noda offers a multi-person mode where you can invite others into the session, collaborate on the mind maps or just explain your concept to them. I tried this with someone and it truly add’s another aspect to your brainstorming and planning.

I found there are certainly differences at the moment between the PCVR and the Quest versions of the app, but the map format and images can be moved between the two instances to make use of the different features, after a little digging around I found that even though the location of custom images and maps is not documented (that I could find) on the Quest you can easily drop files into the sdcard/Android/data/com.codingleap.noda/files/ location using something like Sidequest and then use them in Noda. The only issue I saw with this is when you are in a multi-person meeting the other players are not able to see the images as they are stored on the device and not shared via a cloud service. Hopefully this will be fixed in the future.

For those who want the full version they ask that you email them at [email protected] and it looks like its $19.99 for unlimited maps.

In conclusion, I am a convert, I think I will be using this app more to continue getting things out of my head and making them easier to understand, sometimes getting away from all distractions and solely thinking about a problem like this enables you to focus on the problem.

Give it a go and let me know what you come up with!