VR co-design with Ju/’hoansi in Donkerbos

Project Description

The project has been ongoing since 2017. The community established a research collaboration with NUST, which follows a binding communication protocol as co-created by the community itself . Meanwhile two fully functional VR applications were co-created, and 1 paper published.

Hunting with the Ju/’hoansi in the Kalahari: A co-created VR gesture application.

In collaboration with members of a Ju/’Hoansi community in Namibia, we have co-created a gesture-controlled VR application of a hunting story, as told by an elder in the village, demonstrated in the field by an elder and youth, as well as 3D models and scenes described and designed by community members and interpreted by the researchers. The co-created gesture-based VR narrative of a Ju/’hoansi hunting story is the result of a participatory research and development project with the Donkerbos community in Namibia. It is based on a long term multi-project partnership between the community and Namibia University of Science and Technology, collaborating with Aalborg University. We thank our partners MTC Namibia for local research funding and conference participation support. We recongnise the contribution of Erasmus+ for the student exchange support.

Phase: Ongoing


Project Partners:

1. MTC: The funder of the project

2. Aalborg University

3. Donkerbos Community




Awards and Accolades: None


Publications: Research Paper: Hunting with the Ju/’hoansi in the Kalahari: A co-created VR gesture application. F B. K. Johansen, T K. K. Kjeldsen, M Rosengren Jørgensen, S Magot, April Magot, S Kandjengo, H Winschiers-Theophilus, E Maria Nybo Arendttorp, and K Rodil. In Adjunct Proceedings of the 2022 Nordic Human-Computer Interaction Conference (NordiCHI ’22). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, Article 32, 1–2. 2022 https://doi.org/10.1145/3547522.3547715

Lets dance /Hi//Ka//Kusi with non-player character Ju/’Hoansi women in Virtual Reality

We present a Virtual Reality (VR) implementation of a traditional Ju/’Hoansi dance called /Hi//ka//kusi. It is a dance of celebration of rain, food, and prosperity, complemented by a song of laughter, which is mostly performed by the women in the community. They are dancing in a circle while throwing a !nara melon (or other objects) to the woman dancing just behind them. Upon request by the Donkerbos community members to create a virtual reality application of the dance, we video-recorded a group of women demonstrating the dance. The VR user becomes part of an immersive experience, catching and throwing while dancing among the non-player character (NPC) Ju/’Hoansi women. The Donkerbos community has, since the development of the prototype, confirmed the VR experience. Generally, we maintain that the creation of such cultural experiences is promising in regard to safeguarding cultural heritage practices. We are grateful for the continuous collaboration with the Donkerbos community. We acknowledge the financial support of MTC Namibia, NCRST, and UNESCO as well as EU Erasmus+. 

Phase: Ongoing


Project partners:

  1. MTC: Funded the project
  2. Aalborg University
  3. NUST
  4. NCRST
  5. Donkerbos Community
  7. EU Erasmus+


Awards and Accolades: Won awards for; Best Full paper & Best Short paper



Research Paper: Lets Dance /Hi//Ka//Kusi with Non-Player Character Ju/’Hoansi Women in Virtual Reality. F B.K. Johansen, M Rosengreen Jørgensen, T K.K. Kjeldsen, S Magot, S Kandjengo, J-David Isaacs, S Auala, R Kays, E Maria Nybo Arendttorp, H Winschiers-Theophilus, and K Rodil. In Proceedings of the 4th African Human Computer Interaction Conference (AfriCHI ’23). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, 241–245. 2024 https://doi.org/10.1145/3628096.3629061

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