In 2014, Mikaela Jade started what she believes is the world's first indigenous augmented and mixed reality company, Indigital. The inspiration for this was deeply personal: growing up she felt rather disconnected from her own aboriginal roots and felt that important elements of this culture and heritage were being lost.
Working as a park ranger, she recalled seeing incongruous metal signs explaining places of significance for aboriginal people and feeling as if those 60,000-year-old cultural sites were being almost hijacked by being portrayed from an anthropological or archaeologist perspective. Jade saw Augmented Reality as a way to claim that heritage back and to empower her community both culturally and financially through technology.
The company uses drones, 4D mapping software, image recognition technology, and cultural law to bring cultural sites to life through an AR app that works even in places with no Internet access. "When I saw augmented reality I thought, 'Wow, imagine you could just put your phone up to a cultural place or an artwork or an object and get a deeper understanding from the voice of the traditional owner that's the custodian of the story for that place or object or artwork'," she said in an interview for ZDNet.
Jade believes Indigital provides a way for people to get involved in future economies and to be able to understand digital technologies, adding that Aboriginal peoples are usually the last people to receive cutting edge technologies and she wanted them to be the first this time."The best way that we can do that is to make the technology relevant to our culture, to our law, to our language, and to also just draw on the 80,000 years of science experiments that we have the answers to."
Every Tuesday we'll shine a spotlight on the female trailblazers making their mark in immersive tech and their work. If you have a story you think we should feature, just hit reply to this email or tweet me @alicebonasio.