App brings cities to life with Aboriginal history

17th July 2019 , Koori Mail, Lismore

NGARANDI, a new, immersive and AUS Australian-first augmented reality app bringing cities to life through the stories of Aboriginal history, was launched in the lead up to NAIDOC Week.

The collaboration between Indigenous Specialist agency, Cox Inall Ridgeway, and digital agency, Isobar Australia, and incubated by Dentsu Aegis Network's Innovation Council was created in response to findings from Indigenous Business Australia (IBA).

IBA found that there had been a decline in participation in Indigenous tourism experiences as a result of individual's inability to find the appropriate information and a belief that in metropolitan regions, these experiences simply do not exist.

Voiced by former chairman of Indigenous Tourism Australia, Dr Aden Ridgeway, Ngarandi presents two gamified experiences derived from the stories of the Eora people, the traditional owners of the areas around Sydney, including: Build a Nawi: Experience the craft of creating a traditional 'nawi' (canoe); Eora Fisherwomen: A game where you catch fish and facts about daily life for the Eora people.

The app is live and available on the app store now. The celebration of its launch on July 3, was made particularly special as it was spearheaded by three young, dynamic Indigenous women.

Marlee Silva was a lead consultant on the project for Cox Inall Ridgeway; Troi Ilsley, a UX designer from Isobar, helped with the initial designs of the app; and Aiesha Saunders from the Sydney Living Museum assisted with the historical accounts that are captured in the app experiences.

The 2019 NAIDOC theme is 'Voice. Treaty. Truth.' The designers said part of the focus of the app seeks to raise the prominence of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people's truths, including those related to their history.

The Ngarandi app encapsulates these truths by capturing Aboriginal stories from pre-colonial Australia and making them available to broader audiences that wouldn't have access to them.

The team behind Ngarandi said they hope that the strength of these stories will propel the technology to be adapted to capture more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stories from across the country.

"This app is the first step in allowing us to gain a better understanding and insights into the stories and cultures of a 60,000year-old tradition of Aboriginal peoples," Dr Ridgeway said.

"It does this by giving us a new way to access information and feel a sense of having experienced something unique and different, and quintessentially Australian.

"From these first steps into our past, we activate the memories of the past and connect to these as real day, life experiences."