Indigital, Microsoft and Sydney Zoo celebrate Indigenous storytelling and tech with showcase of animals in 3D

Left to right: Mikaela Jade Indigital CEO and Caroline McGrath of Microsoft
Left to right: Mikaela Jade Indigital CEO and Caroline McGrath of Microsoft

During Indigenous Literacy Week 2023 (Wednesday 6 September – Sunday 10 September 2023), Indigital will be partnering with Microsoft and the new Sydney Zoo in Eastern Creek to showcase 3D augmented reality animals (AR) created by local school students. The animals will appear on visitors’ mobile devices, activated via QR codes, as they explore Sydney Zoo, allowing them to learn about the animals and their cultural importance in an exciting way.

What is the mission behind the initiative?

The showcase is a collaboration between Microsoft, Local Indigenous Elders (Dharug people), Sydney Zoo and Indigital, a First Nations tech firm building connections between educators, tech companies and Indigenous peoples. The program invites Indigenous Elders to share their cultural knowledge, history and language with primary school and high school students.

The students then bring what they’ve learned to life using digital technologies. The skills they learn include working with AR to create a 3D character that can be superimposed on real-life environments using the Indigital App. Over the past six months, 90 teachers and 500 students have taken part in the program in Western Sydney supported by Microsoft.

After working with Indigital, the schoolchildren were able to translate their knowledge about native animals and Indigenous culture into 3D AR animals. Each participating school has made a 3D AR Australian animal for the showcase. The students’ 3D work and their research into what part the animals play in Indigenous culture will come to life narrated by Dharug Elders.

The showcase is inspiring the next generation’s passion for wildlife conservation, all while teaching them to use cutting-edge tech including AR, animation, audio recording and coding.

What does the partnership mean for stakeholders?

Indigital CEO and founder, Mikaela Jade said this is a great opportunity for people to learn about the rich history, culture and stories of the Dharug Elders as well as the native animals at Sydney Zoo. “Young students in Western Sydney have been on a deep learning journey about their local Aboriginal Dharug Country, language and animals in their classrooms. They’re also building critical technology skills important for jobs of the future – building digital literacy.”

Jake Burgess, Managing Director at Sydney Zoo
Jake Burgess, Managing Director at Sydney Zoo

“We are thrilled to partner with Indigital and Microsoft for this unique showcase during Indigenous Literacy Week. It provides students a chance to showcase their creativity and technological skills, while also learning about the rich cultural heritage of the Dharug people and our incredible native wildlife,” said Sydney Zoo, Managing Director, Jake Burgess.

“This collaboration reflects our commitment to education, conservation, and bridging the gap between Indigenous knowledge and modern technology. We invite all guests to Sydney Zoo to immerse themselves in this remarkable experience,” Jake Burgess further commented. 

“It is exciting to see how technology can be used to preserve knowledge, culture, history and language, and to create interactive learning experiences that connect Australians to the land and to our native animals,” said Caroline McGrath, APAC Community Affairs at Microsoft.

“And it’s even more exciting that it’s happening in the hands of the next generation, who are learning to use innovative tech to tell their own stories now and in their future careers.”