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Category Archives: New Zealand

2 years 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’s 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 Director, Michael Gregg advises that 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,” Mr Gregg stated.

Blackeye is a co-founder of PROJECTR, New Zealand’s national virtual and augmented reality centre, conceived by Blackeye director, Michael Gregg. The centre 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 over 100 members across New Zealand.

2 years 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.

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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

2 years ago

CELEBRATING THE WINS

Months of planning came to fruition on the 4th of October when we 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 welcome the generous support from local digital agency, Traverse as a partner of the NZVRARA.  Traverse has 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 interest 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.

Regards,

Michael Gregg (Blackeye VR)

2 years 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 Committee Member, 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.

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

Thanks to Michael Gregg and Martha Loe for hosting this event and providing the refreshments.