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Microsoft NZ makes mixed reality play with AV/VR Garage partnership

21 Nov 2016

Microsoft New Zealand has entered into a partnership with augmented and virtual reality development facility, AV/VR Garage, as it looks to build Kiwi investment in mixed reality technology innovation. 

The move will see Microsoft become the first global technology brand to officially partner with AV/VR Garage. Microsoft NZ will introduce the the new Microsoft HoloLens and Windows Holographic technology via the Auckland-based firm.

Chris Auld, director of Developer Experience for Microsoft New Zealand, says the company is excited about the potential for the strategic partnership with AR/VR Garage to build the profile for Microsoft HoloLens and Windows Holographic technology, both with developers in New Zealand, and commercial customers and partners here and around the globe.

“Since announcing last month that the world’s first self-contained holographic computer, Microsoft HoloLens, is available for pre-order in New Zealand with devices starting to ship in late November, the interest and demand for demonstrations from local developers has been significant,” he says.

Auld says Microsoft HoloLens will be showcased within the AR/VR Garage and used by start-up companies on their own applications, but will also be used in collaborative projects aimed at developing world-leading outcomes and applications.

“We are proud to be one of the inaugural strategic partners for this initiative, and are looking forward to HoloLens finding its place in the pipeline of innovative project opportunities within the state-of-the-art facility that ATEED has established in the AR/VR Garage,” he adds.  

According to Dean Butchers, GM of Business Attraction and Investment for Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED, the AR/VR Garage was established as part of the region’s wider innovation network. He says it was set up to ‘accelerate and showcase’ the development of New Zealand’s AR/VR capability, with a view to creating globally significant outcomes across key sectors.

“The AR/VR Garage is connected to world leading international associations, societies and multinationals looking to utilise emerging technologies to transform their areas of influence,” says Butchers.

“The Garage includes project research and development space where virtual teams from around the world can collaborate on complex proof-of-concept and prototyping innovations, as well as co-location space for Auckland’s burgeoning AR/VR community,” he explains.

Butchers says he warmly welcomes Microsoft’s strategic partnership with the AR/VR Garage and believes it will be an ‘ideal complement’ to Microsoft’s mixed reality strategy, by enabling it to further build networks in Auckland’s AR/VR industry.

“We are delighted to now have one of the world’s leading technology companies become an AR/VR Garage partner, and we look forward to the expertise, vision and global connections that Microsoft will bring to the facility,” he says.

Butchers says augmented and virtual reality have the potential to become the next big computing platforms globally, in the process creating new markets and disrupting existing markets.

“As the technology advances, price points decline and new applications for the technology are established, AR/VR will become a multi-billion-dollar industry, and ATEED is determined to help position Auckland and New Zealand at the forefront of this wave,” he explains.

Since it opened in September, the AR/VR Garage has established strong working alliances with emerging global industry leaders, Butchers says.

“The Garage will be the Oceania base of the influential VR Society, which already has chapters in Beijing and Canada, and last year secured about US$170 million of VR projects for its global members,” he says.

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