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VR EXPORT FORECAST TO BOOM SAYS INDUSTRY REPORT

Wellington-based Virtual Reality company Blackeye has released BlackpaperOne, exploring the booming virtual, augmented and mixed reality industry predicted to be worth NZ$205 billion (US$150 billion) globally in five years and predicts an exciting new export industry will explode in Wellington.

Blackeye, which operates a virtual and augmented reality consultancy, says BlackpaperOne highlights huge opportunities for New Zealand in an industry that is transforming multiple sectors worldwide, such as entertainment – led by games, live events, education, travel, healthcare, real estate, advertising, building and retail.

“The opportunity for Wellington as the creative capital of the country is immense. With organisations such as Magic Leap and 8i on our doorstep, this is a very exciting time for the industry and I am blown away by its exponential growth,” Blackeye chief executive Jessica Manins says.

Weta Workshop in Wellington has a close partnership with Magic Leap, a Florida-based ultra-secretive mixed reality company that has been valued at over US$4.5 billion (NZ$6.1B). About 40 Weta staff are working on creative possibilities for Magic Leap at Weta’s Miramar headquarters.

Manins says 8i, a Wellington-based virtual and augmented technology company, is another example of the industry thriving in Wellington and internationally. A year ago, it revealed it had attracted NZ$20 million from investors, including Samsung, Dolby and the venture fund of American movie star Ashton Kutcher. In February this year they raised US$27 million and announced the release of Holo, a consumer mobile augmented reality app that lets people create mixed reality content with holograms of their favourite celebrities and characters.

BlackpaperOne shows that more than NZ$1.5 billion (US$1.1 billion) of capital was invested in virtual, augmented and mixed reality internationally in the first two months of 2016. It was the first time investment had topped a billion dollars in any year, let alone two months.

Manins says the BlackPaper examines the massive involvement by some of the world’s largest companies, such as Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Samsung and Sony. It also considers impacts on mobile phones, widely credited with driving the virtual reality boom in 2016. Designed as a bench mark document to capture baseline data, it is expected that all aspects of the industry will show quarter-on-quarter growth in future reports.

With imminent releases of AR technology from Magicleap and Apple among others, Blackeye plans to release BlackpaperTwo in the next quarter to update information about the state of the rapidly-evolving industry worldwide and nationally.

The aim of these papers is to boost understanding within beneficiary sectors, plus spark fresh interest in the burgeoning industry from end users, as well as help to educate the general public.

“Blackeye has deeply-connected industry experts providing thought leadership in this exciting field. We understand the power of storytelling through the exploration of new narrative and interaction techniques,” Manins says.

Blackeye is a co-founder of PROJECTR, New Zealand’s national virtual and augmented reality centre, which opens in Wellington this month. The company is also a founding member of the New Zealand VR/AR Association Inc. (NZVRARA), the national association for the virtual, augmented and mixed reality sector that has 120 members across New Zealand and is the official NZ chapter of the global VR/AR Association.

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