Some of New Zealand’s top innovators in the booming virtual and augmented reality sector have joined forces in the newly-formed New Zealand VR/AR Association (NZVRARA).

Foundation members include Wellington-based virtual and augmented technology company 8i, Massey and Victoria Universities, along with a number of emerging New Zealand companies, such as Auckland-based Imersia, Blackeye VR and recently opened Christchurch HTC room-scale virtual reality experience space, The VR Room. Its 16-strong executive committee hark from Christchurch, Auckland and Wellington.

“We’re all amazed at the potential of this emergent industry, which is predicted to be worth NZ$205 billion globally in five years. Spring-boarding off the game and entertainment industry could see the sector rivalling wine as a NZ$2.5 billon export industry for New Zealand within a decade”, New Zealand VR/AR Association Executive Committee Member Jessica Manins, says.

The association will represent and promote New Zealand’s virtual, augmented and mixed reality sectors nationally and internationally, and will launch its first industry event in mid-October. It has secured the rights as New Zealand’s chapter of the global VR/AR Association, which has chapters in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Asia, and aims to accelerate growth, foster research and education, develop industry standards, connect member organisations and promote services of member companies.

“It’s vital that we connect nationally and build a robust platform for collective offshore representation. Being connected to the rapidly expanding global VR/AR Association is a great springboard to the US and other markets,” Manins says.

Global VR/AR Association president Nathan Pettyjohn says he is thrilled to see the launch of the New Zealand VR/AR Association and is excited to have the organisation join the VR/AR Association, the industry’s global trade association with 12 chapters worldwide.

“The global connectivity created by the two organisations working together will help accelerate efficient growth and knowledge-sharing for companies across the world, and will help the world to tap into the innovation taking place in New Zealand,” he says.

The association, which held its first meeting on September 28, was launched with support and leadership from advertising executive, Michael Gregg, who has taken on the role of founding Chair.

Manins says the association plans to host an international virtual, augmented and mixed reality conference in March 2017 in Wellington.

She says the association is keen to welcome new members, including virtual and augmented reality innovators and those working or interested in the industry.

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