Mikaela Jade, a Cabrogal woman from Sydney, is the Founder and CEO of technology company Indigital, which works to develop innovative ways to digitise and translate knowledge and culture from remote and ancient communities. Her app, Indigital Storytelling, uses augmented reality (the same technology that enables Snapchat and Pokemon Go) to tell the ancient stories of Indigenous people, and it was developed in close consultation with traditional owners. Once downloaded, the user opens the app, points their mobile phone or tablet at pre-programmed symbols, objects or sacred sites and an animation opens up, telling a story associated with that object.(1)

Originally based in Kakadu and more recently relocated to Canberra, Indigital works with some of the most remote peoples on earth using cutting edge digital technologies to translate cultural knowledge within their communities; to showcase their cultural heritage to visitors in compelling ways; and to create jobs from the digital economy. Indigital also creates bespoke mobile and hololens apps for Indigenous organisations, communities and government.
Mikaela’s journey began as an environmental biologist, and she spent 14 years as a park ranger before moving to the Australian public sector, where she worked on government innovation across 200 agencies. During that time, Mikaela was introduced to the power of augmented reality at Canberra University, and realised its potential for Indigenous communities. Unable to access investors, Mikaela self-funded her initial idea to bring Indigenous stories to life through a smart phone, after which she managed to secure a government grant to get started. She needed, however, to find a way to make the augmented reality work without the internet.
Determined to bring her idea to life, Mikaela began cold calling international companies involved in augmented reality overseas and eventually came upon a company in the UK who said ‘we love it, let’s do it’. They worked on the project for two years, all online, with Jade using photogrammetry to capture natural objects on country, which could then be 3D-printed and recreated by the development team overseas. Mikaela now has a small team working offshore, as well as a number of people in the community she works with on a weekly basis.
Mikaela’s inspiration and drive to tell the stories of her people is steeped in her own history, which was disconnected from cultural heritage. Whilst long sensing her connections, Mikaela only learned of her Indigenous heritage when she was 29 years of age. Her vision and passion is to ensure that these new technologies are a way to give people an opportunity to learn about Indigenous culture and storytelling, and to connect them with country.
Indigital has taken Mikaela all around the world. She was chosen as one of 21 Indigenous entrepreneurs to attend the Prime Minister’s Reception for Indigenous Innovators and Entrepreneurs in Canberra in 2016, and is a United Nations Permanent Forum Indigenous Issues delegate, Tribal Link Alumni member (New York), Professional Associate of the University of Canberra and Fellow of the Australian Rural Leadership Program. Mikaela also recently joined Microsoft Australia's Reconciliation Action Plan Advisory Board and Indigital was chosen as an ALPHA Start-up for the world’s fastest growing technology investors’ event, Collision, in New Orleans in 2016.
Mikaela’s plans for the future are focused on working with key tourism sites all around Australia to introduce Indigital storytelling as a means to enhance the tourist experience (at sites such as The Three Sisters), as well as sharing technology-led storytelling with other indigenous communities around the world.

(1)Augmented Reality Indigital Storytelling App takes Kakadu into Digital Age, ABC News, 20 August 2017 

Follow us