Augmenting Elders is an ongoing collaboration with seniors and staff at Elmwood, a retirement village in Manurewa, South Auckland. It involves a number of events and projects which bring traditional craft together with emerging technology.
Project 1: Kim Newall’s augmented reality (AR) ‘Love Creatures’ and ‘Wandering Creatures’ material was a pilot project to trial existing AR apps and help the elders learn about this technology. AR digital creatures were enhanced and changed by residents in a special workshop that converted physical templates to digital content. Once the creatures had new skins they were placed around the rest home for residents to enjoy via their own, or staff, mobile devices. Kim created a bespoke app with the special designs allowing the residents to adopt their own creature via their own ready-made application.
Project 2: A Mad Hatter Maker Workshop conducted in collaboration with Diversional (Occupational) Therapy staff. Kim Newall created a new mobile app called Awhi_Flora which was tested during the workshop. Awhi Flora brings interdimensional flowers to life on their own individual seed heads. The designs for the flowers emerged from research into NZ native flowers and seeds.
The first day of the workshop involved residents colouring in seed markers, creating interdimensional flower sounds using an app on Kim’s tablet, and making mad hats.
The workshop gave Kim valuable feedback on his app so he could develop the designs further, and the residents had some fun working with technologies not otherwise available to them (or even the general public). A great win/win.
Project 3: Augmented Dressmaking. This was a longer term collaboration with residents and staff to design a World of Wearable Art Dress for the rest homes ‘alternative’ exhibition/runway. This latter project is a true partnership between creatives bringing together traditional dress design and emerging technology. See our video showing excerpts from our final parade.
In the race to adopt new technologies it is important not to leave anyone behind. It is also important integrate these new technologies with older ways of knowing and doing. In this way we create an inclusive world – and reignite the magic in the spirit of our spaces and places.