Students looking at phones - superimposed with augmented reality
VU students Brody Searle and Melanie Inturrisi use the VU App's new 'Explore' feature to find their way around campus while learning more about native flora. (This image is superimposed to show what users see when they activate the feature).

Victoria University (VU) students and visitors can now use augmented reality on their mobile phones to help them find their way around Footscray Park Campus.

The new VU Explore feature is part of the award-winning Victoria University App now used by 40,000 VU students to keep track of their classes and assignments, and to access VU services.

With this latest feature, users scan decals located on the ground around campus and watch videos that help them familiarise themselves with key services and points of interest.

At the same time, they activate moving three-dimensional holograms of plants indigenous to the Maribyrnong region.

The unique feature allows users to learn more about native plants as they collect a full series of native flowers with charming names such as Bidgee Widgee, Gold Dust Wattle and Minnie Daisy.

Each of the flowers was created as a 3-D digital model over many hours by VU digital designer Khuyen Phung and resident Indigenous digital artist Elijah Mcdonald. 

Free seedlings  

As a bonus, during Orientation Week, VU is giving away hundreds of free flower seedlings for students who collect all the flowers on VU Explore. The seedlings are propagated at the Iramoo Grassland Centre and Nursery located at VU’s St Alban’s Campus.

Prospective students who attended VU’s Change of Preference event in December 2021 were the first to try out the VU Explore feature and receive a free native seedling.

Kati Elizabeth, product manager of the VU Hive Lab where the feature was developed, said VU Explore was an ideal example of cross collaboration at VU, where app developers worked with staff from IT, marketing, the plant nursery, and Moondani Balluk Indigenous Unit.

“We wanted this experience to be truly unique, fun, and informed through a decolonial lens rooted in place. Users experience the best kind of mixed reality when we blend the tactile and virtual environments in truly meaningful ways.”

Alex Sims, Future Students Director said VU Explore “offers prospective students a unique opportunity to discover VU’s world-class facilities, explore its natural history, and learn how VU can help set them up for a successful future.”

The team expects to roll out the VU Explore feature across other VU campuses in future.

VU Explore is the latest innovation developed by the VU Hive Lab. Their VU App has won seven awards for digital design, innovation and entrepreneurship since launching in 2018.