Mikaela Jade has a mission: to keep Indigenous stories alive. How is she doing this? Through an app called 'Digital Rangers' that tells these tales through hologram and animation.
Mikaela, a proud Cabrogal woman, has been chosen to attend the Prime Minister’s Reception for Indigenous Innovators and Entrepreneurs in Canberra on Tuesday evening for her innovation in digital technology. She is among 21 Indigenous entrepreneurs invited to the reception.
She is the brainchild behind the Digital Rangers app - produced by her company Indigital Pty Ltd - which enables users to convert their “mobile phones into eyes”.
The app allows to you direct your mobile phone at a culturally significant site, artwork or nature, to access all types of information.
“Indigenous people are among the most innovative people in the world, and we do use complex technology, and we are able to lead in this space of digital technology,” Mikaela told NITV News.
Ms Jade explains the app's capabilities by using as an example the nut of the fern-like pandanus tree that grows in Australia.
After logging into the app and pointing the phone's camera at the tree, the app will use facial recognition technology to align the image of the pandanus nut with its database, Ms Jade says.
Once that connection is made, a hologram of a traditional owner appears on the screen over a background image of the nut, and informs the user about the pandanus nut and its cultural significance.
“Because we have digital technology at our disposal, we should in the future be able to hear those stories ongoing,” she says.
Mikaela says she was inspired to share these cultural stories after being disconnected from her Aboriginal heritage until she was 29. It was only after Indigenous communities from Queensland to Western Australia recognised her as Aboriginal, that she began looking into her background, and in 2008 found that she had Aboriginal ancestry.
“I didn’t know my stories, what’s it about, and I thought, ‘wow this doesn’t need to happen’,” she said.
Mikaela is in the process of building the app’s database. She says while it is not yet for sale, her company will evenly split any profit with the community where the information came from.
Ms Jade is one of 21 Indigenous entrepreneurs who are being celebrated for their achievements and innovation in the Indigenous business sector and contribution to economic development.
She is also a United Nations Permanent Forum Indigenous Issues delegate, Tribal Link Alumni member (New York), TEDx presenter, Professional Associate of the University of Canberra and a scholarship awardee of the Australia Rural Leadership Program.
Other Indigenous innovators and entrepeneurs to be recognised include: Luke Briscoe, Zoe Betar, Jason Eades, Shane Fields, Chris Ingrey, Michael Ingrey, Ray Ingrey, Fiona Jose, Will Morgan, Tyson Mowarin, Luke Pearson, Mitchell Ross, Michael Rotumah, Jodie Sizer, Mayrah Sonter, Rhys Thomas, Natalie Walker, David Williams, Scott Young and Lyn Al-Young.