Have you ever had a great idea in the shower?

It was 2012 when Mikaela Jade saw augmented reality for the first time, and it led her to a shower thought which would change the landscape of cultural storytelling.

(For those of you who haven’t experienced augmented reality first-hand, it uses the input of the world around you and modifies it through technology in real time! Pretty speccy!)

Combining ‘Indigenous’ and ‘digital’, Mik created the company Indigital Storytelling, which creates mobile phone apps so you can use the world around you for new and unique experiences of Indigenous culture in the palm of your hand.

Bringing stories from thousands of years of living culture to life with digital technologies.

Mik is a Cabrogal woman, coming from a clan near Sydney, NSW. Growing up, she felt disconnected from her Aboriginal heritage because she didn’t know much about it.

“I was standing at a cultural place of significance, and I didn’t understand what the cultural site was about, and I really wanted a way to communicate what all these amazing cultural knowledge systems are about.”

She wasn’t alone. Mik has spoken with 300 elders and traditional owners from across the world, finding that while they are proud custodians of humanity's spoken history, they’re afraid of being the last ones to practice their culture, and they’re finding it difficult to engage with young people.

“I asked them, 'Why?' ‘Cause I’m an Indigenous person, I want to know my cultural heritage! And they said, 'Because the young people always have their heads in these devices', and they can’t compete with the phones, and the iPads, and digital technologies.”

 

Mik’s idea uses drones and 4D mapping software to put cultural heritage and knowledge systems into the phone where the kids are. Remember Pokemon Go? Well this is an example of augmented reality in action. Indigital uses augmented reality to help people experience indigenous culture. They can point their phone at a cultural site, such as rock art, and see it come to life with animation, song and language.

Mik has been working with the traditional owners in Kakadu to show them how this technology could be used. At the moment they are trialling their first app in Australia, but the idea could be applied across the world.

Her vision is that when a young Indigenous person or a tourist visits a cultural place, they can hold their phone up to a site and the artwork will come to life in their language, so they understand what they’re looking at, which has the added benefit of giving traditional owners an economic development opportunity and brings them into the digital economy.

Mik found an issue she was deeply passionate about – her culture, her people, her history – and harnessed this passion to combine storytelling and technology in a really innovative way. Have you got an idea that could change the world? Tell us your story.

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