Experiencing (In)tangible Heritage through eXtended reality (XR) – case study of Western Beach Boat Yard Reserve, Geelong Waterfront

Mediated Intelligence in Design

MInD (Mediated Intelligence in Design) Lab has teamed up with the City of Greater Geelong to create its first open-air digital exhibition in urban public space through application of mobile AR technology which aims to seamlessly integrate intangible/tangible heritage data into everyday city experience. The context of the project is the newly revitalized Western Beach Park in Geelong, which draws on the area’s extensive industrial and leisure past. The project explores representational possibilities through immersive/locative media technologies and interactive storytelling to imaginatively connect people with location’s forgotten histories. The reconstructed stories of the last 200 years, told through application of various visual and auditory means, are activated through an augmented reality app designed to trigger the right story at the right time based on the visitor’s location while using the smart device.

The project development followed a few distinct phases: locating, collecting and classifyingmaterial available for the digital exhibition; conducting pedestrian traffic analysis of the site – including visitors’ movement patterns; understanding technologies that can be used for the open space exhibition; and, designing the conceptual map that will determine relationship between the digital representation of selected stories, on-site visitors movement and a selection of appropriate media to showcase the past. 

The app represents accessible medium for collective local engagement. While traditional AR – one device and one user – is not inherently collaborative, the proposed app provides a platform for people to connect through story-sharing. As such, on-site experience extends into collective communication/collaboration, where people not only share personal impressions but learn about and comment stories of others through the platform. Exchange of testimonials happens directly through the app by image upload/voice recording/text typing/text editing. 

As the Smart City initiative of the City of Greater Geelong pushes towards more participatory models for citizen engagement, the proposed project provides an alternative method as technological platform to facilitate bottom-up, participatory and co-creative community involvement in future digital place-making.  

If you are willing to participate in the study and ready to contribute to this project, MInD Lab is asking the public to supply stories of historical and cultural significance that can be developed into narratives using XR technology. 

The public can share their experiences via this link to the MInD Lab site or by sending their stories and other material to: 

DesignMind, Community Liaison Officer
Deakin University, Geelong Waterfront Campus
Locked Bag 20001, GEELONG, VIC, 3220

Images source: MInDLab and Geelong Heritage Centre