National Virtual Reality complex to be set up in Wellington
A national virtual and augmented reality complex is being set up in Wellington to develop and test world-first uses for the technology.
Reality technologies are currently used in a range of applications, including entertainment, business, medicine, education, architecture and government.
Virtual Reality (VR) is a 3D computer-generated simulation of real life, which the user is immersed digitally, while Augmented Reality (AR) superimposes digital information on the world around us, such as holograms.
Point Zero managing director Chris Mather wants Wellington to become world famous for virtual - just like the Weta group of companies are for movies.
* Ashton Kutcher, Samsung among investors in Wellington virtual reality company
* Wellington tech company 8i to exhibit at Sundance Film Festival
* Weta Workshop partners with Google-backed Magic Leap
* Lucasfilm and Magic Leap set to make Star Wars an immersive reality
His VR development and hologram business recently created a virtual programme for the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research that shows patients how cancer treatment works in their body.
The company will be one of the first to set up in the ProjectR centre and Mather hopes it will inspire talented graduates to set up in businesses.
"There is a lot of talent working in our industry but there is no real commercial focus."
A group of 30 virtual enthusiasts met up regularly in Wellington and there was a waiting list to join he group, he said.
"There is a lot of interest in what we do but there is no real incubation hub to share ideas and solve problems."
8i cofounder and chief executive Linc Gasking said Wellington was already a hub for visual effects talent and technology startups.
His company boasts global investors such as movie star Ashton Kutcher and Samsung and was selected to exhibit at the Sundance Film Festival.
"ProjectR would be a welcomed addition, to help cement the city as a global centre of innovation for the next digital frontier."
ProjectR director Jessica Manins said the centre would be funded by some Wellington-based IT and technology companies and discussions were ongoing with industry groups, tertiary institutions and other businesses.
Manins, the former regional director at Wellington techhub BizDojo, said the need to develop such a centre was highlighted by the recent report, Unleashing New Zealand's Potential – Faster.
In the report, Spark's managing director Simon Moutter, discussed accelerating the rate of technological innovation in New Zealand and its associated economic success.
"This new national virtual and augmented reality centre will boost the capital's reputation as an internationally acclaimed hub of digital innovation," she said.
"It will cement the film and gaming industries in Wellington, foster global partnerships, attract overseas talent and create jobs."
The current plan was to start operating in an initial site in September with the full facilities in place by early next year.
Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency business growth and innovation general manager David Jones said opening a centre dedicated entirely to new reality technology was a bold move that Wellington could pull off.
"Over the past few years, virtual and augmented reality have emerged as a speciality of the capital's tech and screen sectors, and Projectr is the next logical step in growing capability, driving innovation and showing what's possible in this new world."