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Reliving history with the help of augmented and virtual reality

Researchers from Australia’s Deakin University will work with the City of Greater Geelong in creating a multimedia storytelling experience for the newly revitalised Western Beach Boat Yards.

According to a recent press release, the rich heritage of Geelong’s Western Beach will be brought to life through eXtended Reality (XR).

Background of the initiative

Since the establishment of Geelong in the 1800s, the Western Beach Boat Yards site has been a popular leisure precinct for swimming, bathing and rowing.

More recently, the area has become a well-recognised industrial and boat-building centre.

The Co-Director of the University’s DesignMind and a Professor from the School of Architecture and Build Environment explained the area’s history.

Despite its long and diverse history, the physical assets that remain on site, at the western end of the Geelong central foreshore, only hint at the industrial and leisure precinct of days gone by.

DesignMind is the University’s Design and Innovation Platform. It will be collaborating with MInD Research Lab for this project.

The Project

They will use technology to recall the past and create a unique sense of place at Western Beach.

Additionally, it will tell the history of Geelong, as a UNESCO City of Design, in a lively and engaging way.

The project is a major contribution to the ongoing efforts by UNESCO, which emphasises the importance of inter-generational transmission of cultural heritage stories of Geelong.

Through augmented and virtual reality as well as locative media technologies, visitors will be able to immerse themselves in the cultural heritage of the site and witness the rapid changes in the landscape over time.

The project will be the first of its kind in Geelong, and among the very few in Australia, where visitors will be able to live the stories and not just observe them.

Visitors will be able to hear the sounds of the past and visually experience the buildings and the structures as if they are still there with the use of a specially designed app, accessible via their smart phones and other digital devices,

In this way, visitors will become characters in history and Western Beach Boat Yards will become part of their lives and memories.

DesignMind is asking the public to supply stories that speak to the heritage of the site in order to create such an authentic, place-based experience.

Stories can cover experiences from bathing to boat building. These stories will be developed into narratives using Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality technologies.

The project is expected to be completed and open to public during Geelong Design Week scheduled in March 2020.

It will be providing a visitor experience that will surprise and delight young and old audiences alike.

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