(Published - 25 February 2020}
Fantastic, inspirational and enlightening. This was how the University of the Western Cape’s (UWC’s) demonstration of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) as tools and opportunities for creativity in arts was described this week at the 2020 Cocreate Design Festival in Langa.
Led by Ruchen Wyngard, a lecturer in the Department of Information Systems at the University, a group of master’s students showcased how the videos and apps they developed while studying their postgraduate diploma last year can enhance the arts. Their presentation was one of a few displays that members of UWC participated in at the two-day festival.
In its third year, the festival is a platform for South Africa and the Netherlands to exchange ideas and innovations for a sustainable future. Themed Towards Digital Inclusion, this year’s focus is the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).
Wyngard said that while pursuing the Postgraduate Diploma in Immersive Technologies, which was rolled out for the first time in 2019, they learnt how to develop AR and VR content for industry standards.
“Today we came here to the Cocreate festival to demonstrate the applications we built and the possible ways in which immersive technology can assist the arts and entertainment industries,” he said.
He said the programme is important because there is a scarcity of these skills in South Africa.
“While the modern world is moving forward in terms of globalisation, we are sort of lagging behind. So UWC identified an opportunity to develop the skills locally in the AR and VR software development disciplines and industry,” said Wyngard.
“This is a great initiative because, moving forward, it creates highly skilled labour, improves the labour market and allows us to develop content locally as opposed to outsourcing these things. If we can keep the traction going, economically speaking, we are looking at a good prospect in the 4IR space where immersive technologies are concerned.”
Wyngaard said he could see members of the audience respond enthusiastically during the displays and engagement sessions.
One of those was artist, Khanyisiwe Plaatjies, who is a painter teaching kids to do creative arts in the afternoons, under the motto: “No to teaching and yes to self-development”. She described the UWC presentation as “amazing because we learnt things that we didn’t know before. I think this can make my business grow as I’m trying to see what more I can do with my graphic design”.
The Post-graduate Diploma in Immersive Skills is a full-time one-year course at UWC open to those with an undergraduate degree. For more information, contact Dr Michael Norman on firstname.lastname@example.org.