The HomeSteadCreator (HSC) is a prototype which has been developed iteratively with a Herero community in Namibia. The original goal was to enable community members to digitally recreate their physical context to later embed locally recorded IK video, audio or physically tagged places. The videos comprise of recordings of local practices, customs and rituals. At the core of the HSC is the idea of adding information about the context by having community elders reconstruct scenes of any IK recording as a 3D scene. The rationale is that video recordings in general only show one perspective of the scene, thus missing information which is crucial for an optimal local knowledge collection. Some of these missing details can be generated by using a game engine. For instance by adding weather systems, allow elders to share stories that are not recorded, adding animations to virtual characters portraying local practices etc. The HSC is envisioned as a tool where local elders can record IK and recreate the digital context for themselves. The cardinal point is that they can record/manage their own IK locally without assistance. Naturally, they have been doing so for centuries, but the reason for the tool is to transfer parts of this body of IK to youths from the community and region who are unable to assimilate the IK due to being de-situated at remote schools. And to preserve some of the IK for the future in digital format.

The HSC is developed for touch screens and currently being implemented on Android tablets.

Access one of the first papers on the HSC here: ACM HSC

The current version features 49 different 3D objects of virtual people, animals, objects and trees. When the system is booted the user is presented with a 10inch screen where the center area consists of a flat and empty, textured terrain. In the lower part of the screen is a row of icons each representing a category containing thematic 3D objects (for instance a bull icon illustrating a category with diversely textured cows and bulls in). The user inserts an object to the scene by a single-touch event on the icons under the categories (as seen on Figure 1).

 

Fig. 1: The figure show a screenshot from the system where the user has opened the ‘cattle’ category.

 

The user can now translate, rotate and scale this object by various touch input gestures such as two-finger-pinch scaling etc. The user can shift camera perspectives from 90 degree top-down to a free floating camera. While the user inserts and positions objects to illustrate the context of the video, a logging system captures in XML what the user is doing in the app. The purpose of this is for instance to log interface interactions and to log coordinates and rotations of objects for a later representation or analysis. Currently the functionality of adding a recorded video to the creation is not possible. However this is made possible by recreating the scene from the log files and adding the video post runtime.

   

In the first stages of the development a majority of our inquiry detailed the applicability of 3D objects as a viable platform to base an IK system on. Following stages have been focusing on cross-cultural interface design, interaction design and usability evaluations. Recent in situ evaluations have shown that the HSC can not only be used to represent a 3D context but also as a story telling capturing device. Furthermore evaluations of the HSC in Long Lamai (Malaysia) have revealed intuitive use of the tool and much interest by the community members from another marginalized demographic. A number of suggestions were made on how they could use the tool for their own indigenous plant representation.

The fig. below shows that the HSC has been used for storytelling, by creating the context around a story. Left: shows the story creation Right: Shows the outcome.

    

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