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LOOK OUT FOR LAUNCH INVITES TO NZVRARA REPORT ONE: VIRTUAL GETS REAL

Category Archives: New Zealand

2 weeks ago

NEW ZEALAND VRAR TO JOIN NZVRARA

The NZVRARA (The New Zealand VR/AR Association Inc. – that’s us!) has reached agreement with New Zealand VRAR (New Zealand Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Association Inc.) to bring New Zealand VRAR members into the NZVRARA and to combine their digital and social media assets.

The NZVRARA is the official New Zealand chapter of the global VRARA (www.thevrara.com) and formally incorporated in September 2016. The New Zealand VRAR’s incorporated society formed in November 2016 with similar objectives, which made it logical to bring the two entities together.

The NZVRARA was established to champion, support and grow innovation in the virtual, augmented and mixed reality sectors throughout New Zealand. Its objectives include promoting collaboration, education, R&D and economic development for the benefit of its sector members.

“Both organisations agreed that it was not sensible to have duplicated resources, so from today, members of New Zealand VRAR are excited to join and participate in NZVRARA activities as a single organisation,” said Tom Reidy, current Chair of New Zealand VRAR, which is embarking on the process of winding up its entity.

NZVRARA Chair, Michael Gregg, is delighted to have the industry unified as a single voice. “Our Board has an ambitious plan of membership activity in place for the rest of the 2017/18 year and launches its sector report: Virtual Gets Real, in September. To be able to offer these events, workshops and opportunities to the entire local VR/AR community is pleasing.”

Members of the disbanding group will be transferred into the NZVRARA. This, and the rapid growth of the Association’s national Student Chapter, plus planning for October workshops and a summer Speaker Series, is all keeping the NZVRARA’s Executive Director, Courteney Lomas, very busy. “It’s a great time to be part of our virtual and augmented reality community,” says Courteney. Prospective members are encouraged to join the Association at www.nzvrara.nz.

 

FOR FURTHER COMMENT:

Michael Gregg
Chair, NZVRARA
Mobile 021 83 85 83 or michael@blackeye.nz

Tom Reidy
Chair, New Zealand VRAR
Mobile 021 77 92 98 or tom.reidy@tagtheagency.com

4 weeks ago

AR/VR GARAGE PARTNERS WITH NZVRARA

The NZVRARA (The New Zealand VR/AR Association Inc.) and Auckland-based AR/VR Garage have signed a wide-ranging strategic partnership to accelerate the growth of the virtual and augmented reality sector in New Zealand.

The AR/VR Garage, facilitated by Auckland Tourism, Events & Economic Development (ATEED) on behalf of Auckland Council, opened in September last year as a collaborative AR/VR and mixed reality, project-centric, R&D facility in Auckland, New Zealand. Within the broad digital realities sector, the Garage is designed to align tertiary talent with industry needs, develop local solutions for global challenges and connect New Zealand talent internationally.

The New Zealand VR/AR Association is the official New Zealand chapter of the global VRARA (www.thevrara.com) and formally incorporated in September last year.  Established to champion, support and grow innovation in the virtual, augmented and mixed reality sectors throughout New Zealand, the NZVRARA’s objectives include promoting collaboration, education, R&D and economic development for the benefit of its sector members.

This strategic partnership formalises the roles of both organisations to work together to accelerate the education, development and evolution of this creative sector for the benefit of New Zealand. The AR/VR Garage – which has more than 20 high-growth company tenants – joins the Association as a corporate member and will facilitate access to event space and AR/VR related equipment, as well as providing a hot-desk for Association members.  The partnership allows for Association members’ innovative technology solutions to be showcased in Auckland. The NZVRARA will run its Auckland operations from the AR/VR Garage and access the venue for some of its member events.

NZVRARA Chair, Michael Gregg is enthusiastic about the arrangement saying, “The New Zealand VRARA is delighted to bring on the AR/VR Garage as a strategic partner, and as an Auckland home for our Association. I encourage our members and other strategic partners to make the most of this opportunity to build scale, create and drive innovation, and engage offshore through the facilities, networks and events that the Garage offers.”

Head of the AR/VR Garage, Brett Telfer is also excited at the opportunity: “The spirit of the partnership is to break down barriers to communication and collaboration between New Zealand’s regions and pockets of AR/VR capability, and to showcase our nation’s capability more effectively to international partners, delegations and visiting investors. The partnership provides a framework to collaborate on commercial VR and AR projects that drive economic outcomes for New Zealand companies,” he says.

NZVRARA Executive Director, Courteney Lomas is already working from the Garage to expand its Auckland student chapter and will host its first Garage event later this month. “The AR/VR Garage launched in the same month as the New Zealand VR/AR Association, so this is an exciting way for both to celebrate their respective first anniversaries ­– with a joint event,” states Courteney.

 

For more on the AR/VR Garage: www.arvrgarage.nz
Lester Thorley
Mobile 021 829 741 or Lester.Thorley@aucklandnz.com
Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development
Senior Communications Advisor, Business Attraction and Investment

 

For NZVRARA information, or to arrange member access to the AR/VR Garage:
Courteney Lomas
Executive Director, NZVRARA
Mobile 021 779 298 or courteney@nzvrara.nz
www.nzvrara.nz

 

For more on the NZVRARA:
Michael Gregg
Chair, NZVRARA
Mobile 021 838 583 or michael@blackeye.nz

5 months ago

Future Realities a highlight of upcoming Techweek

As the first national tech week approaches in May one of the highlight events, Future Realities, has attracted support from the local innovation community and international speakers including Author Neal Stephenson. The aim of this event is to boost understanding of the opportunities for new technology for business, to spark fresh interest in the burgeoning industry from end users, and encourage investment into the startup community.

Future Realities organiser Jessica Manins believes Artificial Intelligence (AI), Mixed Reality (MR) and the Internet of Things (IoT) sit in the top three technology trends that Kiwis need to follow this year. Virtual Reality training enables staff to make mistakes in high risk or challenging situations without any real life consequences. IoT allows us to measure and monitor home appliances, such as detecting if you need more milk in the fridge. AI systems can analyse huge volumes of data and process information like a human – understanding natural language, generating hypotheses based on evidence, and self-learning.

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, and the industry is predicted to be worth NZ$205 billion (US$150 billion) globally in five years according to Digi-Capital. Analyst firm IDC forecasts global spending on cognitive systems, or artificial intelligence, will reach nearly US$31.3 billion in 2019. A number of companies showcasing at Future Realities are in the process of raising capital for their new ventures.

“Companies that are successfully achieving digital transformation are making serious investments in the power of Augmented and Virtual Reality. A Virtual Reality market research platform called “Shopper360″, developed locally by Rush Digital, Goat Ventures and Lumaten, and made possible by new research in cognitive psychology and predictive analytics utilising IBM Watson, is a great example of how the technologies work together,” Manins says.

The Internet of Things revolutionises the interaction between human activity and the environment we inhabit. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) transform the way individuals interact with each other and with software systems creating an immersive environment.

Future Realities is looking at the key theme of Scaling Impact using these technologies. The event will include a look at smart city initiatives happening here in New Zealand, the application of IBM Watson Analytics in VR environments and the range of applications being developed for healthcare, education and entertainment.

A collaborative approach to the featured Tech Week event has taken place with the IoT, AI and VR/AR community combining forces to put on this event with support from WREDA, WCC, ATEED, The New Zealand VR/AR Association, The New Zealand Film Commission and IBM.

“The opportunity for NZ as a creative country is immense. With organisations such as 8i on our doorstep, this is a very exciting time for the industry and I am blown away by its exponential growth,” Manins says.

Future Realities takes place at Shed 6 in Wellington on the 10th of May and GridAKL in Auckland on the 11th of May. Tickets are limited.

The New Zealand VR/AR Association Incorporated (NZVRARA Inc) is delighted to be a sponsor of the 2017 Future Realities Conference.

NOTE: THESE EVENTS ARE NOW SOLD OUT.

5 months ago

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.

10 months ago

VR to the People

Sparkles. Smiles. Occasional expletives of awe. It takes people mere seconds to register how mind-blowing Virtual Reality (VR) & Augmented Reality (AR) is, and their reaction signifies something life-changing – a glimpse into the future of how we can communicate more effectively and naturally.

The problem is not enough people are getting the chance to have that experience.

2016 was the year that VR & AR really came into consumer consciousness, with the release of three prominent high-end VR headsets (HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Sony Playstation VR), two major Mixed Reality (MR) headsets (Microsoft Hololens, Meta 2), two high-end mobile VR headsets (Samsung Gear VR, Google Daydream) and the global geo-AR phenomenon which was Pokémon Go.  So, a lot of people were hearing a lot about the tech.

Trying it out, however, is a bit more challenging – at NZD$1000 for a high-end mobile VR experience, or $5000 for high-end VR/MR, this is beyond the financial reality of most people or small businesses.

Thank goodness then for new VR arcades, like The VR Room in Christchurch and Virtual Reality Studio in Auckland, start-up collaborations with businesses to roll out VR experiences like The Green Fairy to shopping malls around NZ, and numerous tech demo stands at conferences across a range of industries – these opportunities inspire & energise people to learn more about this technology which is changing the way we create and communicate.

I had the pleasure of doing just that at the recent SingularityU Conference in Christchurch – in partnership with Core Education, we gave attendees the chance to try out a range of digital reality tech, including educational AR games created for schools, Google Cardboard, Samsung Gear VR, and a chance to try on one of the most futuristic-looking headsets – Microsoft’s Hololens.

Christchurch Mayor, Lianne Dalziel has a go on the Hololens

Christchurch Mayor, Lianne Dalziel has a go on the Hololens

I had the pleasure of doing just that at the recent SingularityU Conference in Christchurch – in partnership with Core Education, we gave attendees the chance to try out a range of digital reality tech, including educational AR games created for schools, Google Cardboard, Samsung Gear VR, and a chance to try on one of the most futuristic-looking headsets – Microsoft’s Hololens.

Whilst some might think three days of giving people the best Mixed Reality experience possible would get boring and repetitive, I found it constantly energising, as one-by-one, people were filled with awe, laughter, surprise, and loads and loads of questions.

picture3

Singularity University virtual reality demonstrations

Henry Lane of Corvecto found the same thing at his tech demo, where attendees could walk around and explore lifesize vegetable processing machinery belonging to local Christchurch firm WYMA, and learn to use the latest medical equipment to take x-rays of patients – all within VR.

Digital Reality Tech was mentioned frequently during the conference, as one of the exponential technologies which will change our world over the next 10 years, so it was entirely appropriate that we were there to showcase VR & AR tech innovations from NZ and give attendees a chance to experience it, as these technologies have the unique ability to naturally connect us with all the other exponential developments.

In 2017, the number of VR & AR headsets available to consumers & businesses will grow, the price will come down for current tech as newer tech hits the market, which will enable more people to get their hands on these experiences; however there’s a long way to go before mass consumer adoption, and there will still be a need for places where people can play with the tech.

If you’d like to give attendees at your conference or customers within your network a chance to experience some of this technology, or if have an idea for getting more Digital Reality tech to the masses, please contact the NZ VR/AR Association at office@nzvrara.nz

Geoff Bentley is a speaker/educator/evangelist for all the Digital Realities, providing training & consultancy for businesses through Better World VR

11 months ago

CELEBRATING THE WINS

Months of planning came to fruition on the 4th of October when officially incorporated. Since that date we’ve grown to a strong 75 members. Not a bad start.

Having worked with many start-ups and step-up companies over the last decade I’ve always been big on learning from the failures and celebrating the wins.  We’ve made some huge wins this month that our volunteer executive committee should be proud of so I’m going to celebrate a few.

We welcomed Traverse as a strategic partner.  Traverse have been instrumental in getting the Association off the ground, building our website, securing PR and being all round good folks helping with our events and sponsoring our drinks.  Thanks Traverse. We genuinely couldn’t have done this without you.

We’ve had several opportunities for international partnerships that will help connect our members with VC’s, investors and incubators. A number of paid projects have come through the Association for members to work collaboratively and will help build capability. A jobs board is definitely needed.

It’s incredible the support and interested we’ve had in such a short a time.  Clearly the timing couldn’t be more right for New Zealand to embrace this technology and take the lead globally.

One of our key objectives is to provide resources, where viable and appropriate, to assist our member community to build capability, get exposure, expand offshore and reduce risk. This month we were able to assist NZVRARA members Wrestler attended VRonlot in Los Angeles. Ben Foreman, Wrestler Cofounder and Creative, will be sharing his learnings with us next week on what VR/AR companies need to embrace if they want to truly utilise the technology for its new storytelling capabilities.

WREDA kindly sponsored two of our members, Brendon King and Tony St George to head to our Auckland launch tonight.  The two founders worked on a collaboration to complete a six minute long fully CGI-built Wellington Chocolate Factory “Bean to Bar” VR experience, which debuted at the Te Papa Chocolate Festival in August.  Their virtual reality experience will hit kiosks across NZ via the Samsung Gear VR heatset later in 2016.

Along with Brendon and Tony we have the team from Rush Digital showcasing Elementalist at our launch tonight. Elementalist is their new Vive VR shooter gaming experience that combines both tactile and cerebral elements. We are also joined by Dr Roy Davies, a 20 year veteran in the field of VR/AR/MR and CTO/cofounder of Imersia. He’ll be sharing his new mobile augmented reality technology and his vision for how NZ can use VR/AR technology for commercial purposes, and deliver business results.

Speaking of Veterans, we were honoured to have Dr Taehyun Rhee join the Association this month.  Taehyun Rhee is a Senior Lecturer of School of Engineering and Computer Science at Victoria University. Before joining Victoria, he was a project leader and senior researcher of 3D Mixed Reality Group at Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT) in South Korea from 2008 to 2012.

We also welcomed New Zealand’s veteran institution,  HITlab in Christchurch and the  University of Canterbury as Tertiary members.  Our Christchurch launch will take place at the HITLab space on the 23rd of November where we’ll be joined by key speak, NZVRARA member Henry Lane. Henry is Founder of Global VRAR Development Studio ‘Corvecto’, which specializes in delivering professional VR and AR solutions for large-scale organisations around the world for all manner of industry sectors from aviation and construction through to medical and education.

So yes, it’s been a big month for wins and we suspect November is going to be even bigger.

See you tonight Auckland.

11 months ago

NZVRARA launches in Wellington, New Zealand

The Wellington launch of the New Zealand VR/AR Association Incorporated was attended by 140 industry people together with associated government and sector representatives. Auckland and Christchurch launches are planned to follow shortly.

On the day of the Wellington event, our #NZVRARA hashtag trended to 6th most popular in New Zealand and the event received significant media attention.  Here’s a selection of articles about the New Zealand VR/AR Association Incorporated.

Idealog looked “Inside the New Zealand VR/AR Association’s plan for virtual world domination.

Stuff.co.nz reported that “New Zealand virtual and augmented reality innovators set up association.

The New Zealand Herald interviewed our Executive Director, Jessica Manins and reported “Virtual and augmented reality on the rise in New Zealand.

Over in the US, the VRARA blog covered the “New Zealand VR/AR Association Launch

You can listen to the Access Granted podcast – we were the lucky Episode No. 100.

Bizedge.co.nz covers off our connection to the global VRARA as their New Zealand Chapter with this story: “Top Kiwi innovators launch VR & AR association

The NZVRARA would like to thank everyone involved in bringing our first event to reality (the only time we’ll use this quip!).