New tech, trends, collaborations at Fak’ugesi

The Fak’ugesi Conference was one several events during the 10-day Fak’ugesi: African Digital Innovation Festival. Discussions at the conference included the experiences of and challenges in the augmented- and virtual reality industries.

fak'ugesi tech trends
Fak’ugesi holds its first animation hackathon, called the ani-marathon, on 11 and 12 September 2017. Participants are animation school students and people working in the industry. The final product is showcased on 16 September 2017 at the festival’s Bloc Party. (Image: Faku’gesi, Facebook)

Melissa Javan
The Origins Centre Museum was now a space where technology could be explored, participants at the Fak’ugesi Conference heard, held on Thursday, 14 September 2017. Virtual reality goggles would be available at the centre.

The announcement was made shortly after the panel discussion “Future Media: Addressing changes and development of virtual reality industries in South Africa”.

It was the first conference held at the annual Fak’ugesi: African Digital Innovation Festival, which took place in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, from 6-16 September. “Fak’ugesi” comes from the isiZulu term meaning “add power” or “put on the electricity”.

The event brought technology and innovation to people in a fun, accessible and playful way. There were also workshops, laboratories, exhibitions, hack-a-thons, music, films, artists and games.

“Some incredible highlights at this year’s festival will include the Fak’ugesi Conference, the hugely popular Making Weekend, as well as our annual Market Hack event at the Neighbourgoods Market in Braamfontein,” said Tegan Bristow, 2017 Fak’ugesi festival director, before the event.

“We’re also thrilled to announce an exciting new curatorial partnership titled Fak’ugesi Beats, a beats, music and technology focus curated by Weheartbeat, who will go on to lead the festival finale Fak’ugesi Beats Bloc Party as part of their larger programme.”

The bloc party was on 16 September.

Participants tweeted about the festival:

The Origins Centre

The Origins Centre Museum at the University of Witwatersrand explores and celebrates the history of modern humankind. You can also do DNA ancestry testing at the centre.

The virtual reality goggles now available were created by Alt Reality. There will be a virtual reality tour for visitors on 25 September, which will explore various ancestors. The technology makes use of smartphones.

The conference

Speakers at the conference included artist William Kentridge. He is best known for his animated drawings and is one of South Africa’s most well-established fine artists.

During the discussion “Future Media: Addressing changes and development of VR industries in South Africa”, panelists spoke about their experience in animation- and related industries, as well as the challenges they faced.

One of those was the high cost of hardware, especially since it changed every several months. Another challenge was that distribution of technologies such as virtual reality was not happening at scale.

Rick Treweek of animation company Alt Reality had advice about changing technologies. “[If you have to create something for a client] bank on the concept.

“Hardware changes fast. So don’t just develop games for Nokia, but rather games for phones.”

Panelist James Gaydon of Don Doo Studios, which specialises in virtual reality, augmented reality and animation, said his company focused on providing training resources for mining companies.

For example, said Gaydon, it had created a 3D virtual reality training system for Anglo American that showed what tools should be used underground.

“With this model, we took the employees out of dangerous spaces – they didn’t have to go underground to do the training. It makes the training less stressful, because they are not in a dangerous space,” said Gaydon.

“Virtual reality is an incredible technology.”

Most of the panelists agreed that they foresaw corporates using more of augmented reality versus virtual reality – augmented reality is used with Pokemon Go and virtual reality is used with the film Avatar.

You can use augmented reality with a smartphone and you will still see your surroundings, but with virtual reality when you put on the goggles, you are placed within a virtual world – cut off from reality.

Other topics discussed at the conference included “Sonic visions: Understanding new collaborations in film, design and music” and “Culture and innovation, a Pan-African Conversion”.

Source: Fak’ugesi

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