Deakin to use extended reality to recreate Geelong's waterfront history

Media release
25 September 2019

The rich heritage of Geelong's Western Beach will be brought to life through eXtended Reality (XR) when Deakin University researchers and the City of Greater Geelong create a multimedia storytelling experience for the newly revitalised Western Beach Boat Yards.

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 and, more recently, a well-recognised industrial and boat-building centre.

Professor Tuba Kocaturk from the School of Architecture and Built Environment and co-director of Deakin's DesignMind said 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.

"In this project, DesignMind, Deakin's Design and Innovation Platform, in collaboration with MInD Research Lab, will use technology to recall the past and create a unique sense of place at Western Beach and tell the history of Geelong, as a UNESCO City of Design, in a lively and engaging way," Professor Kocaturk said.

"The project is a major contribution to the ongoing efforts by UNESCO emphasizing 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, not just observe them," Professor Kocaturk said.

Using a specially designed app that will be accessible through their smart phones and other digital devices, visitors will hear the sounds of the past and visually experience the buildings and the structures of the past as if they are still there.

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

To create such an authentic, place-based experience, DesignMind is asking the public to supply stories that speak to the heritage of the site, 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, in March 2020 and provide a visitor experience that will surprise and delight young and old audiences alike.

The public can share their experiences via this link: https://wp.me/p6rbvD-TR

Or by sending their stories to: DesignMind, Community Liaison Officer, Deakin University, Geelong Waterfront Campus, Locked Bag 20001, GEELONG, VIC, 3220

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