A time spent introducing VR to both industry and state organisations across South and Southern Africa, working through the ten CSIR Divisions. This was also a time of musing and reflection, looking at how could VR, impact on education, training and learning, and especially so in Africa. Delving into this was truly innovative at the time, with acknowledgement also being given to the inputs of Dr RS Day, then of the CSIR Meraka Institute.
As CEO, Dave founded the Naledi3d Factory in 2000. He holds an MSc in Transportation Engineering and BA (Hons.) Geography and has over thirty years of experience in the Transport and ICT fields.
He is a member of the Chartered Institute of Transport, the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, and a Senior Member of the Association of Computer Mechanics and the Computer Society of South Africa.
He joined the Pretoria-based Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in 1981, where he often found himself working at the forefront of innovation, such as vehicle-responsive traffic lights and freeway management. In ICT, he implemented the second-largest PC network in the Southern Hemisphere in the late 80s, worked on the team that pioneered email in South Africa and later worked with what became the internet – several years before the “world-wide-web” became a part of our lives.
After 15 years of transport, traffic and ICT research work, his passion for VR grew when he was appointed co-Director of the CSIR VR Centre (1998 – 2000).
He started developing his ideas on how impactful VR could be for training and education across Africa in the late 1990s, including its potential for developing our poorer communities – thinking unique at the time, which led to the start of Naledi3d Factory’s journey.
He was the Director of the Tshwane Interactive Digital Centre. The Centre was established and managed by Naledi3d Factory and was active between 2015 and 2019 (when it was assimilated into the City of Tshwane). Through its VR Innovation Academy, the Centre became renowned for taking unemployed (township) Youth and giving them 3D and VR skills that meet the needs of today’s digital world. In the last year’s intake of 50 interns, all who completed the programme found full-time employment within three weeks of completing the 11-month programme.
He still presents at international conferences, and this thinking has since evolved into the benefits of VR, AR and XR in today’s 4IR landscape.
Dave describes himself as a “social entrepreneur”. He rails against the prevalent “industrial paradigm” that still seems to dominate our global economies and dreams of the day when a true “knowledge-based society” comes to the fore.
However, he has never lost his sense of humour and can often be heard laughing uproariously from his office.
shego studied IT at the TUT, specialising in Multimedia. He also holds a certificate in The Fundamentals of Digital Marketing through Google Digital Skills for Africa. He joined Naledi3d in 2015 as an intern, leaving in 2019 to spread his wings and explore other opportunities, returning to Naledi3d in 2020.
Tshego is a very passionate coder. He started having a strong passion for VR when he realised how much of an impact it can have, especially in education. He strongly believes in harnessing 4IR technologies to enrich the way our children learn. Besides coding, Tshego spends his time reading and, these days, upskilling on Udemy.
With over 12 years of experience in VR content development, Ofentse completed his Information Technology qualification at the Tshwane University of Technology. In 2012 He specialised in Multimedia design, Multimedia Programming and Software Development.
He displays creativity and attention to detail in his work that is hard to match. Ofentse is one of our star VR Developers, creating and programming innovative content for interactive 3D simulations. He has a good grounding in both hardware as well as software tools required.
Lesego is a VR developer with Naledi3d Factory and holds a BSc degree specialising in Software Engineering. Following a post-degree 11-month course in VR development at the Tshwane Interactive Digital Centre (T-IDC) in 2016, she was employed the following year at the Centre as a VR Developer.
Following the move of the IDC to the City of Tshwane in 2019, she moved to the Naledi3d Factory. She believes the world of 3D/VR/AR has not yet caught on in South Africa, but as it does, it will revolutionise how things are done in our country, especially in the education and TVET training spaces – which is where her passion starts.
Henri studied software development at the Tshwane University of Technology. Joining us in 2008, he specialises in accurate, low polygon 3D modelling and inspirational 3D animated stories. Low-polygon modelling is essential to keep real-time interactive simulations as small and efficient as possible, which is a special skill, and Henry has indeed honed these skills over time.
Henry’s skills and knowledge will be crucial to this project in building the 3D platform upon which the AR and VR simulations will stand.
Lucett is COO and Business Development Director at the Naledi3d Factory.
She is a transport and logistics professional by background. She has extensive practical experience in “complex” project and contract management, construction and infrastructure, and business development experience, having previously served as Project Coordinator for the Rustenburg 2010 FWC and as former Director at Limpopo Department of Roads and Transport, as well as and the National Department of Transport, and as an Infrastructure and transport researcher at the CSIR between 2000 and 2007.
She became involved in the potential impacts that VR and AR can offer “African” training and education in the company part-time as early as 2004. She joined the Naledi3d team full-time in 2016.
She was invited to speak about the impact of AR/VR in Africa at the UNIDO General Conference Plenary Session in Vienna in 2017.
We were invited by UNIDO to present at the 2017 UNIDO General Conference Plenary session in Vienna, and to also participate parallel UNIDO LKDF 4th Donor Conference.
Together with UNIDO, we had previously worked on a project to address chainsaw operations and use, as part of a broader training programme in Kwa-Zulu Natal.
UNIDO asked us to showcase this work during the Plenary session, as a part of a presentation on the project
In late 2014, the City of Tshwane and EON Reality (a leading US VR Company) signed an “IDC Agreement” to establish the Tshwane Interactive Digital Centre, one in a global network of other IDC’s.
Naledi3d Factory was tasked in the Agreement as the local, experienced entity to establish, and to manage the Centre.
The Centre launched in April 2016 in Hatfield and was a first for Africa. It comprised a training centre (Virtual Reality Innovation Academy – VRIA) and that enrolled 50 young interns a year and offered training in the art of VR content development and entrepreneurial skills – a eleven-month programme. Around 85% of those that completed the programme found employment within weeks of completion.
The Development Studio created new VR content to address local needs. The 500m2 showroom showcased all VR technologies available at the time – from mobile to Cube and all points inbetween.
In mid-2019, the Centre was handed over to the City of Tshwane as a working Centre and the Centre was moved to TLMA (Tshwane Leadership and Management Centre) in Pretoria West.
Asked by UNIDO to evaluate the impact of a diesel engine training App – “LKDF Interact” – used at the Volvo Selam Vocational Training College in Addis Ababa).
In the same way that both learners and educators in 2004 came out very strongly for VR in the classroom, so too with the technical students at the TVET College in Addis Ababa.
100% of the students, and lecturers wanted more content, and in a wider range of subject areas.
Once again, as in 2004, learners and students in Africa, irrespective of social backgrounds have spoken up for more VR content to support their curricula.
Building on 15 years of VR experience, and the learning insights that we had gained, we created a “funky” style for short, fun, and engaging 3D animated videos. This medium and style is also be a powerful way to get important messaging across, as it is designed to capture the audience’s interest, and keep them engaged.
The base-premise was that if you can keep an audience engaged, whatever the medium used, then the messaging is not only easily internalised, but also easily memorised – and that is after all the end goal.
By using a video format, it also means that the messaging can be distributed far and wide, using devices from phones to TV and harnessing the reach of today’s social media.
We’ve since created several stories, ranging from how a business works and the roles of shareholders, managers and workers; the role of innovation in a municipality; to explaining the SI measurement system for kids; explaining the importance of the Quality Infrastructure (QI) for SME owners across Africa; to the importance of accurate measurement (working with NMISA).
Our latest work, with UNESCO, is looking at the COVID-19 pandemic from the perspective of how do we safely return to work, how do address stigma, and looking at ways to get the messaging out in not only the minority languages across Africa, but also in sign language.
Registration of I3dlo’s (Interactive3d learning objects) as a learning concept, and as an international trademark, with help from SAFIPA (South African Finish Partnership SA).
The learning concept of the “learning object”. A Reusable Learning Object is the chameleon of eLearning and can be reused time and again in a variety of different eLearning activities, modules, and courses. Each has its own learning objective.
Our big breakthrough with i3dlo’s was in fact to also develop a process to localise VR content – not only to localise, but in a way that anyone can change the language, without having to use the base proprietary VR software – and only using a tool like WINZIP.
We were invited by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) to write a paper on our VR work in Africa – a paper that is still referenced by researchers worldwide. We are also proud of this one…
“Using VR for Human Development in Africa”. IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications ( Volume: 28 , Issue: 3 , May-June 2008 Link to IEEE.org Computer Graphics digital library .
SciFest is South Africa’s biggest youth science event with tens of thousands of young people attending every year.
It was extremely rewarding to be able to have an opportunity to open so many young minds to what is possible…
Hon. Joyce Mujuru Vice-President, Zimbabwe
HE Phumzile Mlambo-Ncguka Deputy-President SA
HE Luìsa Diogo Vice-President Mozambique
As part of their visit to The Innovation Hub, we had the pleasure of hosting three Southern African Vice Presidents in our office to present our work. A big thumbs up for Southern Africa as not only were we hosting three VP’s, but three female VP’s nogal. This was yet another proud moment on our journey.
Funded by UNESCO, this empirical study looked at the reaction to VR in schools (both educators and scholars), in Ugandan and South African schools. This research study is documented in a research report that can be downloaded from UNESCO’s library.
“Evaluation of Virtual Reality In Africa, An Educational Perspective”, UNESCO, Paris, 2004. (CI-2004/WS/1)
The study drew on VR acceptability and usability surveys in schools in South Africa (Mamelodi and Soshanguve) and Uganda (Buwama, Makerere College, Nakaseke, Ndejje, Saint Henry’s schools).
For the first time, the potential for VR in African schools and colleges was tested and proven. More so, because the learners only complaint was that there needs to be much more content, and over many more subject areas.
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Virtual tours can be interactive and allow users to explore a location at their own pace, potentially increasing engagement and interest.
Virtual tours can be shared on social media, the company’s website and other platforms, increasing visibility and reach.
Virtual tours can be a great way to provide accessibility for people with disabilities who might not be able to visit the location in person.
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Virtual tours allow potential tenants to see commercial spaces from all angles, giving them a better understanding of the space’s layout, features, and details.
Virtual tours can create a more engaging and interactive experience for potential tenants, allowing them to explore the space at their own pace and in greater detail.
Virtual tours can help to bridge the gap between online and in-person property viewing by providing potential tenants with a more realistic view of the space.
Virtual tours can be a cost-effective way to showcase commercial spaces and attract more potential tenants.
Virtual tours can allow potential tenants to view commercial spaces from any location and help increase accessibility for tenants with mobility issues.
Virtual tours can save potential tenants time and effort by allowing them to view commercial spaces without physically visiting them.
Virtual tours can help increase commercial spaces’ visibility to a broader audience, as they can be easily shared online and viewed on different devices.
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Virtual tours allow potential tenants to make informed decisions on whether a space suits them before arranging a physical visit.
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Virtual tours can help to bridge the gap between online and in-person property viewing by providing potential buyers with a more realistic view of the property.
Virtual tours can be a cost-effective way to showcase properties and attract more potential buyers.
Virtual tours can allow potential buyers to view properties from any location and help increase accessibility for buyers with mobility issues.
Virtual tours can save potential buyers time and effort by allowing them to view properties without physically visiting them.
Virtual tours can help increase properties’ visibility to a broader audience, as they can be easily shared online and viewed on different devices.
Virtual tours allow people unable to visit the physical location to experience the museum or heritage site from the comfort of their homes.
Virtual tours can help to preserve fragile artefacts and historic sites by reducing the need for visitors to handle or disturb them physically.
Virtual tours can provide additional information and context for visitors, enhancing their understanding and appreciation of the exhibits.
Virtual tours can create a more engaging and interactive experience for visitors, allowing them to explore the museum or heritage site at their own pace and in greater detail.
Virtual tours can be a cost-effective way to promote a museum or heritage site and attract more visitors
Virtual tours allow customers to see products from all angles, giving them a better understanding of the product’s features and details.
Improving customer experience:
Virtual tours can create a more engaging and interactive shopping experience for customers, allowing them to explore the store or product in greater detail.
Virtual tours can help to bridge the gap between online and in-store shopping by providing customers with a more realistic view of the products and store.
Virtual tours can be a cost-effective way to showcase products and stores to potential customers and increase sales.
Virtual tours can allow customers to view the products from any location and help increase accessibility for customers with mobility issues.
Virtual tours can save customers time and effort by allowing them to view the store and its products without having to visit the store physically.
Together with World Links Zimbabwe and WK Kellogg Foundation, we worked with farmers in 5 districts on agricultural skills development (Mutoko, Mandedza, Rio Tinto, Rio Mubira and Rusike) – starting with beekeeping, expanding into soil conversation, plough settings, pests, sorghum – and “growing” from there…
The most important part of our work is impact; and in this project, this was our best and most rewarding project at the time.
Because of the visual nature of VR, after the 2-day workshops with local farmers, the impact was immediate (the next day) as farmers effected a change in their farming practices.
Seeing is, it seems, is truly believing.
Working with Dr Fay Chung (IICBA Director, past Minister of Education in Zimbabwe, Dr Fay Chung and a well-known champion of education and didactic principles during the Zimbabwe liberation struggle / second Chimurenga in the 1970’s).
Individual projects with Fay and IICBA focussed on addressing issues around HIV-AIDS, and on empowering educators in Ethiopia to better understand the issues around the disease, including stigma.
Follow-on projects looked at the connections between maths and science and HIV. This was a great opportunity to make STEM and HIV relevant to everyday life.
Despite having few IT resources in the classroom, educators had a better understanding of the underlying issues around HIV and the AIDS syndrome, and thus were better equipped to teach their young learners in class.
Another proud moment for us was the fact that after less than two years in operation, we were showcasing innovative VR content on three exhibition stands at the Ubuntu Village, a part of the prestigious Summit held in 2002 in Johannesburg. These were:
• City of Johannesburg – Moroka Dam rehabilitation
• ESKOM stand – sustainable energy technologies
• Hewlett Packard stand – showcasing our UNESCO basic hygiene simulation – with Virtual Nakaseke
Ubuntu Village was one of the venues established to host the 40 000 plus visitors to the Summit. Sited at Wanderers Stadium, Ubuntu Village included the erection of “Tensile 1” – the world’s biggest tent structure at the time.
Working with AngloGold Ashanti, we worked on several projects addressing safety related issuescontent – which led to saving lives. We showed many hazards, such as fall of ground, travel way vs non-travel way, mud rush, triangle of death, safe offloading of ammonia the impact of the various forms of energy on safety, for example.
It was while working on this programme that we came to understand the true value of SHOWING what can happen if you do something wrong or take shortcuts in a deep mine.
Showing someone how they could die does tend to lead to an immediate change in behaviour.
Visualising new and innovative sustainable community power generation technologies – and also larger solar, wind turbines, concentrated solar power (all now a reality in SA) as well as hydro power generation (using disused mines).
We also visualised the visual impacts of using proposed wind and solar power generation on Robben Island as a replacement for imported diesel fuel.
In our first project with UNESCO, we addressed basic hygiene in the District of Nakaseke / Luwero, in Northern Uganda.
The project ran through the local multi- purpose community centre in the village of Nakaseke, which had electricity, but no running water. The VR content was later taken by the Centre to outlying communities, where there was neither water nor electricity…. And it was well received.
This work led to a significant drop in reported dysentery rates in the district and was still being used fifteen years later by the Nakaseke Centre.
This is a project that we are still immensely proud of, but also a project that shows the power of visual and interactive communication.
Afternoon workshop – “Virtual Reality – An opportunity for education in Africa”.
Supported by UNESCO, this was the first time that we had an opportunity to put our ideas and vision forward to an audience in Africa. The response was inspirational. As the workshop finished, we were interviewed by CNN for the weekly CNN Africa in Focus slot.
We opened our doors on 1st November 2000 and the second new SME company to join the new Innovation Hub, which was at the time starting up, based at CSIR Building 43.
Paper presented “the potential for VR in Africa, and in particular, on learning and education”.
It was at this conference that we caught the attention of UNESCO (John Rose, CI Division. Paris); and was the start of a long-term relationship with UNESCO that continues to this day.
A time spent introducing VR to both industry and state organisations across South and Southern Africa, working through the ten CSIR Divisions.
This was also a time of musing and reflection, looking at how could VR, impact on education, training and learning, and especially so in Africa. Delving into this was truly innovative at the time, with acknowledgement also being given to the inputs of Dr RS Day, then of the CSIR Meraka Institute.
Paper presented – “Interactive Virtual Reality (IVR) methodology for community education”
Virtual Reality in practice – Safety Awareness in Mining… (Virtual Presentation)
Naledi3d / EON joint Reality presentation at Skills Show, UK: 14-16 Nov 2013.
Paper presented – “VR / AR in Education and Training – An African dream, enigma or reality?”
Paper presented “VR / AR and Metrology in Africa – Is it imagined, or a reality?”. Keynote address with NIST Director, Dr Willie E. May (US)
Vienna, Austria. 2017 UNIDO General Conference (plenary), and parallel UNIDO LKDF 4th Donor Conference.
Presentation and demonstration of chainsaw operations Apps.
Paper presented “VR / AR in Africa, is it imagined, or is it a reality?”
Paper presented – “Virtual reality, to be or not to be” May 2019
Paper presented – “Virtual Reality as a training tool” May 2019