Indigital drives spatial web diversity

09/06/2021 - 14:00

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An indigenous tech company is leading the push into the spatial web.

Indigital drives spatial web diversity
Mikaela Jade is founder and CEO of Indigital. Photo: Indigital

The spatial web is the predicted convergence of the physical and digital worlds: technologies such as augmented reality and artificial intelligence, where the real and the virtual become one.

Canberra-based Indigital is helping shape the face of the spatial web, led by CEO and founder Mikaela Jade.

The international multi-award-winning company and Microsoft Global Training Partner is helping ensure those creating the spatial web come from diverse backgrounds and perspectives, not just the usual suspects in Silicon Valley.

“We’re Australia’s first indigenous edu-tech company,” said Ms Jade, a Cabrogal Woman from the Dharugspeaking Nations of Sydney.

Even though the company isn’t based in Western Australia, it trialled its first program at the Governor Stirling Senior High School in Woodbridge.

Indigital specialises in providing people of all backgrounds with digital skills for the fourth industrial revolution, but with a critical difference.

“What we mainly work in is augmented and mixed reality storytelling,” Ms Jade told Business News.

“We teach Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-indigenous peoples the same skills, but everybody has to do it through a cultural lens.”

A cultural lens

Practically, what this means is that when Indigital delivers digital training to schools it also includes things like indigenous cultural, intellectual property, and moral rights. It also includes addressing issues about putting indigenous cultural knowledge, language and law into the spatial web.

“Everybody has a really thorough understanding at the start of the project about what we mean when we talk about cultural heritage, what we mean when we talk about cultural expressions, what we mean when we speak about place, and objects and language and all the things that inherently make up our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures across Australia,” Ms Jade said.

The next step is to work with traditional owners to decide what story they want to share with the technology, as co-created by the students.

“There’s a lot of creation stories that get shared in these sessions, as well as personal journey stories,” Ms Jade said.

“There’s stories where elders might have grown up on missions and what mission life was like for them, and things that they’d like the next generation of kids growing up on their country to learn about.”

Co-creation

The team works with the kids to turn those stories into augmented reality, which serves the dual purpose of creating AR experiences and teaching the students digital skills, while sharing indigenous culture and language.

“After the storytelling happens, we break the story down into characters, objects and elements. We then move into teaching the kids how to create that character, object or element in paint 3D,” Ms Jade said.

If the students are in high school, they will also learn how to animate that object.

From there, the team moves into language recording, and the elders are invited back to teach students how to speak the language properly, which is then recorded and added to the experience.

“The last part of the program is working in Minecraft Education Edition, and the students create the worlds the elders have shared with them in Minecraft, and we teach them cultural coding,” Ms Jade said.

“They then take a 3D photo from that Minecraft world and that becomes the landscape of their augmented reality experience.

“Finally, our platform uses AI to stitch these components together to form the augmented reality experience that is unique to the students and that they can share with the community and family.”

Tech-plus

The impact of the program goes far beyond digital skills, Ms. Jade said.

For example, one of the elders involved in the program in NSW still turns up to the school every week.

“He’s found relevance with who he is in the community through the schoolwork and the connection to the kids and teachers,” Ms Jade said.

“It is a digital skills program, but it’s not about technology.

“It’s about the human relationships and people having the opportunity to come together and work on something meaningful.”

• Dr Kate Raynes-Goldie is a multi-award-winning designer, researcher, futurist and certified facilitator of LEGO Serious Play. She is also the CEO of Lovego, where she is improving the dating experience for business women

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