Indigital shares indigenous insight with augmented reality
SYDNEY – November 13, 2017 – Kakadu-based innovator Mikaela Jade is developing an augmented reality system using Microsoft HoloLens to bring to life indigenous stories, culture and beliefs that amount to “instructions for living on planet earth.”
Jade is the managing director of Indigital and presently finalising the first version of the HoloLens-based system that will initially tell the story of Namande, a 60,000 year old figure in the landscape at Kakadu, brought to life through augmented reality.
The company has used drones, 4D mapping and smartphone apps in the past to share indigenous insights – but HoloLens offers a significant advance on what has previously been possible.
Microsoft HoloLens is the first self-contained, holographic computer, enabling users to engage with digital content and interact with holograms in the world them.
“We’re hoping to use image-recognition technology of Neville Namarnyilk’s bark ochre painting and bring the character to life in life size. So when you put on the HoloLens Namande is right in front of you and you’re seeing him the way the Bininj people see him in the landscape, and his song and dance and his body paint and the dilly bag that’s around his neck.
“And it will be translated into English, because currently the content we’ve developed is in Kunwinjku,” said Jade.
She has previously worked with traditional owners and artists from the Kakadu area to use technology including smartphone apps to make cultural stories widely accessible and also share important health advice within aboriginal communities.
The HoloLens solution currently in the final stages of development is believed to the first example of the technology being used to make accessible and amplify indigenous understanding and insight.
“The knowledge systems that go with it are the oldest living knowledge systems on earth. One of the things I’m really keen to communicate through something like HoloLens is that these aren’t bedtime stories – they’re instructions for living on planet earth,” she said.
Lawrence Crumpton, Microsoft lead for HoloLens in Asia, said that the Indigital HoloLens application not only made indigenous insight accessible to the broader community, it could also help stall the decline in inter-generation knowledge sharing within indigenous communities.
Harnessing modern technologies to communicate age-old wisdom was a way to engage younger people without losing the integrity of the content he said.
Jade said that with HoloLens the barrier of using a mobile device to access content is removed making for a far more compelling and immersive experience. “HoloLens means it’s now coming straight through your eyes. It’s the first technology that I think will give people the same experience as what our law people and our medicine people and our people see.”
Crumpton added that the technology also bridged any digital divide as; “In the Aboriginal tradition they never wrote it down; they shared the experience face-to-face. For the first time ever, technology has caught up to our senses where, in a really natural way, we can see the content, we can engage with voice, with our sight, in the real world.”
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